The National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) reported last week that Poverty worsened between 2003 and 2006, yet taken as whole, their own data for the period between 2000 and 2006 actually shows a long-term downward trend in poverty incidence!
Writing for the Philippine Daily Innuendo, SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS Chief Mahar Mangahas entitled his reaction to the NSCB announcement "Admitting that poverty can also rise" --but will he acknowledge that his own public opinion polling data shows a long term definite downward trend to poverty?
IS HUNGER GOING UP OR GOING DOWN?
In order to compare the statistics of SWS and NSCB on Hunger let me first say something about data collection methodology. The NSCB bases all its work on an official determination of the so-called minimum food threshold, which is the income required by a family of five to feed itself at a subsistence level. Families and individuals who do not earn this minimum income are considered to be below the SUBSISTENCE level and are therefore expected to be chronically hungry. It's data comes from the Family Income and Expenditure Study, which takes three years to complete one cycle.
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The SWS on the other hand conducts public opinion polls quarterly and asks 1200 respondents whether or not their households have experienced hunger at least once in the quarter because they had no food to eat. The percentage who experience hunger like this all the time are considered to be in SEVERE HUNGER, while the rest are in MODERATE HUNGER. SWS reports the sum of these two figures as TOTAL HUNGER.
But moderate and severe hunger, which I call "episodic" and "chronic" respectively, behave very differently in the data of SWS:
CLICK TO ZOOMOne thing for sure, the SWS data on self-reported SEVERE HUNGER agrees with that of the NSCB's Family Income and Expenditure Study data in the downward trend.
The most questionable of the SWS data is its MODERATE HUNGER data, which in the past I've analyzed and shown contains SEASONALITIES and PERIODICITIES that indicate that experiencing hunger episodically ("at least once in the last three months") is not a good measure of hunger as such, even if it's great for selling HEADLINES.
TRICKLE DOWN OR DIRECT INJECTION?
A central theme raised by Mahar Mangahas is that even though the economy is indubitably expanding and developing as shown by GNP and GDP figures, it is claimed that the benefits are not really being felt by "the poor and hungry." Anecdotally there are of course too many poor and hungry people around here, but the "no trickle down" criticism is a repressed memory of Ronald Reagan brought back to life by reformers with agendas. It flies in the face of SWS's own severe hunger data, as now confirmed, at least in its downward trend, by the NSCB. Moreover, the real cause of economic improvement--the OFW repatriations at over one billion dollars per month--is a direct injection of funds to families at the lowest levels of society. That's DIRECT INJECTION as far as I can tell, not trickle down.