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The latest poverty statistics released by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reveals that in Bicol Region, 36 in every 100 families in 2009 were poor. This translates to about 45 in every 100 individuals. Poverty situation in the region hardly changed compared to the 2006 level with a measly 0.1 percentage point drop in incidence both in terms of families and individuals. At 90 percent confidence level however, poverty incidence of individuals can lie anywhere between 42.3 percent to 47.9 percent while poverty incidence of families can be anywhere from 33.5 percent to 38.5 percent. Incidence of subsistence poor individuals and families dropped by 3.8 percentage points and 2.8 percentage points respectively.

Among provinces, Catanduanes had the lowest poverty incidence of families at 22.0 percent. It likewise posted the biggest decrease in poverty incidence among provinces at 13.2 percentage points. On the other hand, Masbate had the highest poverty incidence at 42.5, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point from its 2006 figure.

Average annual per capita poverty threshold in the region stood at P17,146. Thus, in order not to be considered poor, a Bicolano family of five needed P7,144 a month or about P85,730 annually in 2009. A minimum wage (P196) earner in the region then can only support a family of at most three members to be considered non-poor.

Poverty threshold in Albay in 2009 stood at P18,678, the highest among provinces. This means that cost of living in Albay was high compared to the other provinces and opposed to Masbate whose poverty threshold was P16,023 during the same year, the lowest among provinces. All provinces experienced more than 24.0 percent increase in poverty threshold, with Albay posting the highest at 26.2 percent between 2006 and 2009.

Income gap of the Bicolanos improved in 2009 from 28.7 percent in 2006 to 25.1 percent in 2009. The decline means that on the average, the poor in 2009 had to increase their income by 25.1 percent (instead of 28.7 percent in 2006) of the poverty threshold to be considered non-poor. Lower income gap means that there is lesser income shortfall of those below the poverty line. Poverty gap likewise improved with a decrease of 1.3 percentage points from 10.3 percent to 9 percent. Poverty gap is the total income shortfall (expressed in proportion to the poverty line) of families with income below the poverty threshold, divided by the total number of families. Inequality of income among the poor also improved by 0.7 percentage point, as indicated by the severity of poverty from 4.0 percent in 2006 to 3.3 percent in 2009.

When poverty thresholds are compared with the average income of families within the income deciles where the threshold falls, it was noted that prices rose faster than the income of families in the provinces except in Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon. In Albay for example, the poverty threshold increased by 26.2 percent from 2006 to 2009, faster than the 21.2 percent and 15.0 percent increase in average income of families in the fourth and fifth deciles, respectively, between which the poverty threshold lies.

The 2009 poverty estimates used a refined methodology that was recommended by the interagency Technical Committee on Poverty Statistics which is in-charge of the formulation/development of the official poverty estimation methodology. The refinements were made to capture province-specific characteristics in the estimation of provincial poverty statistics. One of the changes was the use of provincial food bundles or menus instead of regional food bundle or menu. Back estimates for previous periods using the refined methodology were computed and are the ones presented herein. (Visit http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pressreleases/2011/PR-22011-SS2-01_pov2009.asp for a more extensive explanation on the refined methodology).

While the poverty statistics presented have provincial levels, it should be noted that the domain of the Family Income and Expenditures Survey (FIES) is the region. The FIES is conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) and serves as one of the main sources of poverty estimates. It is therefore suggested that coefficients of variation (CV) be taken into account in analyzing the poverty situation of the provinces. The higher the CV, the lower is the reliability of the estimates.

Source: National Statistical Coordination Board

Date Posted: March 24, 2011

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