Poverty is a state of not having enough money or resources to fulfill basic needs such as clothing, food, and shelter. Poverty not only affects a single individual but a country as a whole. The Philippines has considerably high poverty rates, with more than 16% of the population living below the poverty line. Poverty in the Philippines has persisted for over three decades compared to other economies such as Malaysia and Thailand, which eradicated poverty long ago. Now let’s analyze the main reasons that are causing poverty in the Philippines
High level of income inequality
One of the primary causes of poverty in the Philippines over the past 20–25 years has been unequal income distribution. Approximately 52% of total household income went to the wealthiest 20% of Filipinos. In comparison, just 47% went to the 80 percent of the population who were considered poor, according to a survey conducted in 2006. The Philippines has the most significant income disparity among its ASEAN neighbors. The Philippines’ land distribution system and its income distribution mechanism are broken. In developing nations like the Philippines that rely on agriculture, unequal land allocation might slow down the rate of poverty alleviation and reduce long-term income growth.
Lack of Jobs
The Philippines experiences poverty due to a lack of high-quality jobs and insufficient economic growth. This is due to the proportionately high population density and steadily rising participation of women. Due to the Philippine economy’s sustained boom and recession over the past three decades and its only moderate economic growth, the population’s access to more jobs has not kept up with this expansion. Even though many Filipinos work abroad, the Philippines has a greater unemployment rate than its Southeast Asian neighbors. Compared to the quality occupations, which have been declining, the share of manufacturing and industrial jobs is mainly consistent. Plus, investor interest in enhancing agriculture has diminished due to a lack of specific policies, limited infrastructure, and institutional deficiencies.
According to numerous research studies, large families are directly related to a higher incidence of poverty. By Asian standards, the Philippines’ population is still overgrowing. As previously stated, a growing population results in a shortage of resources for the population as well as high demand for those resources. Expansion of the population in the Philippines had led to underemployment or unemployment, which could have led to extreme levels of poverty. Due to the population’s rapid growth, the government finds it challenging to keep up with the provision of public services in the areas of sanitation, education, and health. Large families have a more enduring problem with poverty since they have many mouths to feed and little income.
Natural disasters and Climate Change
The Philippines is very vulnerable to catastrophes and natural disasters, which harm the country’s agricultural economy and force many people to the brink of poverty. Farmers who invest all of their savings in plantations run the severe risk of being unable to meet their basic requirements, making their lives more difficult and feeding the cycle of poverty. The poor experience more suffering than the other population, including illnesses, injuries, and financial losses, since they are more prone to depend on the environment. Soil erosion, degradation of the coastal and marine ecosystems, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are reducing agricultural output in rural regions, endangering the livelihoods of the poor.
Corrupt political leaders are another significant factor contributing to poverty in the Philippines. In a very selfish way, corrupt officials are lining their own pockets. Instead of serving the interests of the general public, they use authority and government resources for their benefit. Since the corrupt system in the Philippines makes billions while the average person lives in poverty and starves to death, much money is lost. In the Philippines, where corruption is pervasive, it is common for high-ranking government officials to amass wealth during their service and for their relatives or children to seek political office after they leave, maintaining the corruption cycle.
Two of the world’s longest-running armed social conflicts are in the Philippines. Communist insurgency is one source while the other is the conflict between Bangsa and Moro rebellions. These confrontations deplete the government’s substantial resources and produce uninhabitable conditions. The Philippines’ extreme poverty is further fueled by widespread illiteracy and a lack of trust in the government. Numerous people become relocated and lose their source of income due to ongoing conflicts, which causes poverty.
Lack of Quality Education
One of the main reasons for poverty in the Philippines is illiteracy and inadequate educational opportunities. Although the education system is integrated, it is also fragmented. For instance, primary school enrollment in Manila is 100%, and in other regions, it is only approximately 30%. In the end, regional differences lead to interregional growth differences, meaning some regions may become wealthy while others fall into poverty. Additionally, students from low-income families are more likely to experience limited resources and suffer from health problems, which results in a lack of education and ultimately poverty. Many Filipinos are frequently caught in this vicious circle of poverty, inequality, and education.
Frequent Food Inflation
The Philippines’ current state of poverty is getting worse due to high inflation. More people in the Philippines live in poverty due to rising food inflation. Many impoverished families are compelled to spend less on their children’s education and healthcare as the cost of goods rises, resulting in poverty in many Filipino households. The general people suffer due to the government’s inability to control inflation, which finally causes poverty in the Philippine economy. People utilize most of their money to buy necessities due to inflation, which leaves them with little to no money to spend on higher-quality products like clothing, assets, or education.
One individual is not the cause of poverty; the entire nation is. Therefore, the government must take the necessary actions to combat poverty and spur economic growth in the Philippines. Now, it’s not only up to the government to make the right choice and elect a candidate who works for the general public rather than their bosses. The two key actions that can eradicate poverty in the Philippines: are education and good governance.