What Makes a Family Poor? Yes, Size Does Matter

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What Makes a Family Poor?

A poor family is poor because it has additional mouths to feed compared to a non-poor family.

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What Makes a Family Poor? Yes, Size Does Matter

  1. 1. Office of the President of the Philippines NATIONAL ANTI-POVERTY COMMISSION LWUA Water Supply Training Center MWSS-LWUA Complex, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City Trunk lines 4264956, 4264965, 4265019, 4265028, Fax 9279838 Media Release 23 April 2014 Yes, Size Does Matter (What Makes a Family Poor?) by Nikkin L. Beronilla, Director Policy Monitoring and Social Technology Service Art by Jeffrey Lubid By 2014, the number of Filipinos in the country is expected to reach 100 million, according to the Commission on Population. Will the poverty situation worsen because there will be more Filipinos? Let us take a look at the numbers. Sample provinces that posted high population count in 2012 are Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Pampanga. Metro Manila, of course, h the most densely populated area in the country, around 12 million. But note that these are NOT poor provinces. The poor provinces are found in periphery regions such as Ifugao and Apayao in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Eastern Samar in Region VIII or Eastern Visayas, and Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). These are less populated than the first mentioned provinces above. Densely populated provinces are non-poor while less populated provinces are poor. Does this mean that population growth will lead to a decrease in poverty incidence?
  2. 2. LWUA Water Supply Training Center MWSS-LWUA Complex, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City Trunk lines 4264956, 4264965, 4265019, 4265028, Fax 9279838 To answer the paradox, we need to add another dimension of poverty – the number of members in a family or family size. In general, poorer provinces though less populated than better-off provinces have MORE family members. Northern Samar, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur have a high poverty incidence and a family size of five to seven family members. On the other hand, Pangasinan, Cavite, and Metro Manila have an average family size of four but are densely populated. To see why family size and poverty behave in a positive manner, let us imagine two households with the same annual income of P100,000. Comparing Two Households with the Same Income Household A has four (4) family members. Its per capita income is equal to P25,000 or each member of Household A brings home a monthly income of P25,000. But Household B, having six family members will only have a per capita income equal to P16,667. Let us assume that the annual poverty threshold is P20,000. The per capita income of Household A, which is P25,000, is above the poverty threshold, while that of Household B, which is P16,667 falls below the poverty threshold. Thus, Household A is a non-poor household, while Household B is a poor household.
  3. 3. LWUA Water Supply Training Center MWSS-LWUA Complex, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City Trunk lines 4264956, 4264965, 4265019, 4265028, Fax 9279838 What Makes a Family Poor? A poor family is poor because it has additional mouths to feed compared to a non-poor family. Highly populated regions are less poor because the average family size is small. Therefore, the initial question “Will an increase in population worsen the poverty situation?” should be reframed to “Will an increase in population lead to more family members, hence, poorer households?” Truth to tell, the past decade shows that the average size of a family has been declining. Population growth in the future may neither lead to an increase in family size nor to higher poverty incidence. The problem of more mouths to feed is less an issue at the population level bu t is a real problem at the household level. Thus, poverty alleviation programs and policies should address the household situation. ###

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