Poverty Measurement in the Philippines

Poverty Measurement in the Philippines

Before international non-governmental organizations were established to reduce poverty or the Millennium Development Goals was formulated, and poverty subjects are taught in universities. Poverty is already a concern of Mallanaga Vātsyāyana, an Indian philosopher who lived in 4th century AD. He wrote in his book Kama Sutra that “poverty is not a virture. It is an obstacle, not only to pleasure but also to ethics and virtue. Morality is a luxury which very poor people can rarely afford.” This means poverty is a condition that limits your freedom. Where most people want to escape. And it has many dimensions. 

Poverty has different meaning to people. UNDP introduced the concept of human poverty. UNDP’s definition of poverty is not the sum total of well being; lack of income cannot be the sum of poverty. Human poverty does not focus on people do or do not have, but on what they can or cannot do (UNDP, 2000). According to World Bank (2006), poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. 

Extreme poverty was defined by World Bank as living on less than US$ (PPP) 1 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. It has been estimated that in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day. The proportion of the developing world's population living in extreme economic poverty has fallen from 28 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2001.

There is a principle that states that: what you cannot measure, you cannot manage. Therefore, to reduce poverty it has to be defined and measured using different indicators to capture its multidimensional facets. The indicators should include economic, social and political needs. These indicators should evolve to capture the changing concepts of poverty in changing times.

The most commonly used poverty measurement is measure of relative income. Relative poverty views poverty as socially defined and dependent on social context. It is a set standard which is consistent over time and between countries. A relative measurement could be used to compare the total wealth of the poorest one-third of the population with the total wealth of richest 1% of the population. Gini coefficient is one of the several income inequality metrics. In many developed countries the official definition of poverty used for statistical purposes is based on relative income. As such many critics argue that poverty statistics measure inequality rather than material deprivation or hardship (Wikipedia). -Rico Buraga at

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