NEDA may introduce new poverty indicator

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poverty slum area

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is considering a new indicator to more accurately measure poverty, known as the multidimensional poverty index (MPI).

In her speech during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, NEDA Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie G. Edillon said that despite government statistics showing real increases in income and declines in the poverty rate, there are challenges to the integrity of poverty data.

“My own take in all these protestations is that perhaps we are reporting the wrong metric,” Ms. Edillon said in her speech, a copy of which was distributed to reporters yesterday.

Ms. Edillon said that the MPI will be presented to the board of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for approval this quarter.

“Hopefully, the PSA can report periodically on this measure beginning next year,” she said.

According to NEDA, MPI captures the “multiple deprivations that each person is experiencing, with respect to education, health and living standards. It complements the income-based poverty indicators.”

It also allows cross-comparison across countries, ethnic groups, urban or rural locations, as well as other factors.

“MPI is more relevant in depicting poverty as it is closer to the concept of a comfortable lifestyle. It also provides an objective method for identifying beneficiaries of targeted assistance programs,” said Ms. Edillon.

Currently, NEDA and the PSA measure poverty by gathering data on family income and living expenditures. The data show sources of income and income distribution, spending patterns, and the degree of inequality among families.

The government aims to cut the poverty rate to 14% in 2022 from 21.6% in 2015. The Ambisyon Natin 2040 road map hopes to make the Philippines an upper middle-income country with zero poverty.

NEDA said that it has also started the pilot survey on the quality of life of Filipinos.

“This will complete the picture of incomes, outcomes, and perception of well-being of individuals and families. This can be analyzed alongside the different contexts of markets, the macroeconomy, the physical environment, and so on. We can perhaps gain a better understanding of what works and what does not,” Ms. Edillon said. — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan