WB Poverty Measures for Philippines Unreliable: Ibon

Apr. 18, 2007

IBON Foundation, Inc., IBON Center 114 Timog Ave., Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. (632) 927-7060 * Fax (632) 929-2496 * E-mail: media@ibon.org * www.ibon.org
Reference: Mr Sonny Africa (IBON research head)
April 18, 2007

Press statement


Recently released poverty estimates by the World Bank are unreliable and grossly underestimate the extent of poverty in the country, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

According to IBON research head Sonny Africa, The Banks estimates using 2000 population figures, of 15 million Filipinos a day living on less than $1 a day and 43 million on less than $2 a day, are not based on the real needs of Filipinos but on an arbitrary poverty line adopted to support the claims that economic globalization policies bring about development and human progress.

Using this benchmark, the Bank claimed that global poverty rates fell in 2004, with the global proportion of people living on $1 a day falling below the 1 billion mark.

According to the most recent (2003) Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), some 83% of Filipino households, or approximately 68 million Filipinos, are already living under $2 a day.

Africa added that the most critical flaw in the measurement is the use of purchasing power parity (PPP) to make comparable the consumption patterns of people in different countries. But items that people buy in different countries are so vastly different that it is meaningless to try to assume, as PPP-based poverty estimates do, that there is a common standard and a common income level to escape poverty, he said. National poverty has to be defined according to specific national circumstances.

The World Banks poverty measure is misleading. Anyone who looks at how it is computed will see that it does not really say as much about poverty and the state of the worlds people as it pretends to, Africa said.

More important than income-based measures in gauging the extent of poverty in the Philippines are social indicators, such as access to education and health services, he pointed out. According to the Department of Education, dropout rates in secondary schools grew to 15.8% in 2005-2006 from 8.5 % in 2000-01, and as much as 30% in some schools, due to poverty. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Rhea Veda Padilla
IBON Foundation, Inc.
114 Timog Ave., QC
Tel. (632) 927-6986
Mobile No. 0917-4844065
Email: media@ibon.org

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