Despite global crisis, families earning more in 2009 than 2006 -- NSO

Posted at 11/22/10 11:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino family incomes have improved in the last 3 years despite the period having encompassed the worst of the global financial crisis, latest government data indicate.

An economist pointed to the country’s substantial growth in 2007 as a factor, while a state planner claimed that the implementation of conditional cash transfers directed at the poor had contributed.

Initial results of the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), released last Friday by the National Statistics Office (NSO), put the Filipino family’s average income and spending in 2009 at an annual P206,000 and P176,000, respectively.

The FIES is a nationwide survey conducted by the NSO every three years, the results of which provide information on levels of living, income disparities and spending patterns among Filipino families.

Data for the 2009 FIES was collected in two rounds, in July 2009 and December 2010.

The latest figures translate to average annual family savings of P31,000 in 2009, NSO administrator Carmencita N. Ericta said in a statement posted on the agency’s Web site.

On a monthly basis, the average monthly family income as of last year was P17,200 while the average monthly expenditure was P14,700.

Considering 2006-2009 inflation and adjusting it to prices in 2000, the average 2009 annual family income would be P129,000 compared to P125,000 for 2006. Yearly family expenditure, meanwhile, would be at P110,000 in 2009 and P107,000 in 2006.

Average annual savings came out the same, at P19,000, for both years.

The NSO said the income gap between the richest and poorest Filipino families narrowed slightly during the past three years. In peso terms, however, the divide remains substantial.

On average, the average annual income for families in the lowest 10%, or decile, was at P41,000 while that for the top decile was P728,000. Put another way, those in the top 10% were earning 18 times more than those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Three years earlier the results were P32,000 for the lowest income group and P617,000 -- 19 times higher -- for families in the highest bracket.

Using the Gini coefficient -- a measure of inequality in a population -- gives a ratio of 0.4484 for 2009, slightly lower than 2006’s 0.458. The measure ranges from zero to one, with zero indicating absolute income equality and one indicating absolute income inequality.

Asked to comment on the data, economist Solita C. Monsod of the University of the Philippines said the slight narrowing of the income gap could be attributable to the 7.3% gross domestic product growth in 2007, the highest in 31 years. The uptick eased to 3.8% in 2008 and further to 1.1% in 2009 but the country still managed to grow unlike many other nations, she added.

"[The 2009 Gini coefficient] is the lowest that it’s ever been as far as I can remember," she said, adding there was a good chance poverty also decreased during the period.

For his part, National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director-General Augusto B. Santos pointed to the 2007 launch of the government’s conditional cash transfer program and its expansion nationwide the following year.

The scheme, targeted at the poorest households, involves the distribution of P10,000 per family on the condition that children are sent to school and pregnant women subject themselves to regular checkups