Philippines: Survey numbers show hunger worse among those sinking deeper in poverty

While 30 percent of people say their lives got better, the latest Social Weather Station survey reveals that at least 29 per cent are being hit hardest by accelerating inflation.

Kurt Dela Pena

Kurt Dela Pena

Philippine Daily Inquirer



December 6, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — While the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that 30 percent of people believed their lives got better, it also revealed that at least 29 percent is being hit hardest by accelerating inflation.

According to the results of the SWS survey, conducted last Sept. 29 to Nov. 2, 30 percent of Filipinos said they believe their lives were better than a year ago. But 29 percent said their lives got worse. At least 41 percent said nothing changed.

This resulted in a Net Gainers score of zero, which is slightly higher than -2 in June and April this year. A score of -9 to zero is classified as “fair,” while +20 and higher is considered “excellent.” In December 2019, the Net Gainers score was “very high” at +18.

According to SWS, Filipinos saying that their quality of life got better in the past 12 months are called “gainers,” while those who are saying that it got worse than a year ago are called “losers.”


Despite the slight improvement, it was pointed out that involuntary hunger, which is “being hungry and not having anything to eat,” became more prevalent among losers than those who believe that life was better off or still the same compared to a year ago.

This, as out of 11.3 percent or 2.9 million Filipinos who experienced involuntary hunger in the third quarter of this year, 15.7 percent were losers—13.2 percent of which experienced moderate hunger while 2.5 percent experienced severe hunger.

Only 9.8 percent of gainers experienced involuntary hunger—7.5 percent moderate and 2.3 percent severe—while only 9 percent of those having the same quality of life experienced involuntary hunger—7.4 percent moderate and 1.6 percent severe.

According to SWS, compared to June 2022, involuntary hunger fell from 10.9 percent among Filipinos having the same quality of life as last year, but it stayed at 9 percent among gainers and rose from 14.9 percent among losers.

Life still hard for poor
According to results of the same SWS survey, 49 percent of Filipino households considered themselves “poor,” while 29 percent rated themselves as “borderline poor.” Only 21 percent of Filipino households are “not poor.”

SWS said the self-rated poor are Filipinos who belong to households with heads that rated their respective families as poor. This status is then applied to all members of the household.

“The Net Gainers score has been historically lower among the ‘poor’ than among the ‘borderline poor’ and ‘not poor.’ This means the ‘poor’ have more ‘losers’ and fewer ‘gainers’ than the ‘borderline ‘poor’ and ‘not poor’,” SWS said.

SWS said last Saturday (Nov. 3), that Net Gainers was a “fair” -9 among the “poor,” compared to the “high” +6 among the “borderline poor” and “very high” +14 among the “not poor.”

Compared to June 2022, the Net Gainers’ score rose from “mediocre” to “fair” among the poor as the score moved slightly from -11 to -9. It stayed “fair” among the “borderline poor,” up from +8 to +6.


SWS said the Net Gainers’ score likewise rose from “high” to “very high” among the “not poor,”moving from +6 in June 2022 to +14 in October 2022.

But it was stressed that while Net Gainers’ score rose from “high” to “excellent” among college graduates, which is up by 16 points from +2 to +20, it fell from “fair” to “mediocre” among elementary graduates, down by 5 points from -7 to -12.

It stayed “high” among high school graduates, which saw a 2-point increase from +3 to +5. Net Gainers’ score likewise rose from “mediocre” to “fair” among non-elementary graduates, up by 4 points from -12 to -8.

Millions at risk of starvation
The SWS findings came as the Philippines is experiencing intensified inflation, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expecting the readout for November to be at 7.4 percent to 8.2 percent.

The BSP said inflation last month was caused by higher costs in electricity and liquefied petroleum gas, and agricultural commodities because of Paeng, a severe tropical storm that hit the Philippines in late October.

To recall, the readout hit an almost 14-year high—7.7 percent—that month because of price gains in key commodities, specifically food and non-alcoholic beverages. It outpaced the 7.1 percent median forecast in a Reuters poll.

As stressed by the World Food Programme (WFP) last Oct. 14, a global food crisis is leaving hundreds of millions of people battling acute hunger—with some tipping dangerously close to famine.

“Along with known culprits—the fallout of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change —is another fearsome enemy: skyrocketing prices for food and other key basics, especially since the war in Ukraine,” WFP said.

“Since this conflict began, soaring food, fuel and fertilizer costs have driven an additional 70 million people closer to starvation,” WFP Executive Director David Beasley said, referring to Vladimir Putin’s mission to obliterate Ukraine.

WFP revealed that a record 345 million people in 82 countries faced acute hunger or worse—up from 282 million at the start of this year: “Sharply rising prices also threaten hard-won gains in building longer-term food security and resilience.”

As stressed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its “Global Wage Report 2022-2023: The Impact of Inflation and COVID-19 on Wages and Purchasing Power,” the economic and health crises dragged down the real values of wages of workers.

“Income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained. In addition, a much-needed post-pandemic recovery could be put at risk,” it said.

“This could fuel further social unrest across the world and undermine the goal of achieving prosperity and peace for all.”

As explained by the ILO, inflation is “biting into the purchasing power of minimum wages. Despite nominal adjustments taking place, the real value of minimum wages is quickly eroding in many countries.”

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