Making US$1 million to require 270 years for the average Filipino worker

According to a study, the Philippines ranked 89th out of 102 countries when it comes to the time required for an average worker to earn a million dollars.

Kurt Dela Pena

Kurt Dela Pena

Philippine Daily Inquirer



April 18, 2023

MANILA – Like the rest of thousands of Filipinos queuing on lotto outlets every day, Cesar Espedillon, a driver, is dreaming that someday, he will win a multimillion-peso jackpot, too.

Based on data on the website of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the jackpot for 6/58 is already P61.85 million.

But if Espedillon, a worker bringing home a meager P15,000 income a month, will not be lucky to win, he would need to wait 270 years to earn his first $1 million, or almost P55 million if relying only on his pay.

This was revealed by international e-commerce company last week as it released its report “How Much Time Do You Need to Become a Millionaire?”.

It said its analysts “calculated how many years of work are required to make $1 million in different countries while earning an average wage,” which is $309, or P16,908, in the case of the Philippines.

With this, the Philippines ranked 89th out of 102 countries when it comes to the time required for an average worker to earn a million dollars or P54.72 million.


The Philippines, said, has the fifth longest time for workers to make $1 million in Asia and the Pacific, next to Cambodia (293 years and 6 months), Bangladesh (331 years and 7 months), Nepal (420 years and 9 months), and Pakistan (621 years and 3 months).

The average wage data was lifted from Numbeo, while the average exchange rate data from Google Finance for March 2023 was used for currency conversion. said out of the 102 countries on its list, people in Switzerland will earn their first $1 million the fastest, which will only take 14 years and 3 months, if a worker makes an average $5,880 a month.

Next to Switzerland is Singapore, Luxembourg, United States, and Iceland, where earning $1 million will only take 16 years and 11 months, 17 years and 4 months, 19 years and 10 months, and 20 years and 11 months, respectively.

Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands were in the top 10, too, since making $1 million will only take 21 years and 3 months, 23 years and 9 months, 24 years and 3 months, 24 years and 6 months, and 24 years and 9 months.


The bottom 10, meanwhile, were Pakistan, Egypt, Uganda, Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, and Colombia.

This, as data indicated that with only $134 average wage in Pakistan, a worker would need to wait 621 years and 3 months for him or her to make his first $1 million, while in Egypt, it’s 603 years and 6 months since the average wage is only $138.

Then in Uganda, Nigeria, and Nepal, where an average worker only makes $159, $161, and $198 a month, respectively, it will take 523 years and 3 months, 519 years and 1 month, and 420 years and nine months to earn $1 million.

Findings reflect reality
Espedillon told that he has been betting on the lottery since his early 20s as he sees it as his only way out of poverty.

This, as while he has work and has an income of P15,000 a month, only a few is left for savings since “we are already struggling in making ends meet because of rising inflation, which is making our lives tougher.”

Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, inflation has been accelerating since last year and only slowed down to 7.6 percent in March from 8.6 percent in February and 8.7 percent in January.

Latest available data from the think tank Ibon Foundation and the National Wages and Productivity Commission showed that with the readout only slightly decelerating in February, none of the minimum wages across regions met the family living wage.

Take the case of the P570 minimum wage in Metro Manila, which is already the highest in the Philippines. The think tank said it is not even half of the P1,161 family living wage in the region.

Then in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the P341 minimum wage, which is the lowest in the country, is only 17.54 percent of the region’s estimated family living wage of P1,944.

The PSA said in 2019 that in 2018, Filipino families earned an average of P313,000, while their average expenditure for the same year was P239,000, translating to an average annual savings of P75,000.

But when adjusted for inflation between 2015 and 2018, at 2012 prices, the average annual family income in 2018 would be valued at P267,000, while the average expenditure would be valued at P203,000, leaving a meager savings of P64,000.

The picture, however, is even worse for Filipinos engaged in informal work.

Last year, Singapore-based James Cheo, chief investment officer in Southeast Asia at HSBC Private Banking and Wealth, said the Philippines has one of the best demographics in the region.

Referring to an HSBC research written by HSBC Asia chief economist Fred Neumann, Cheo said economies that are growing rapidly such as that of the Philippines tend to accumulate wealth faster.

“And this is why the number of Filipino multimillionaires (those holding a wealth of $250,000) is expected to more than double by 2030,” he added.

But when told about this, Espedillon said he is certain that in his lifetime, it would be impossible to make even $1 million: “I was born poor, so I might die poor, too.”

The average life expectancy of Filipinos is 71, which is two years less the global average of 73, based on a study by the World Bank for 2020.

The same study also showed that the average life expectancy of Filipino males is 67 and females 76.

scroll to top