Poverty in Manila : concepts, measurements and experiences.
This thesis constructs a detailed anatomy of poverty in Metropolitan Manila,
Philippines, by critically examining and comparing a) the government's official
statistics, b) alternatives to the official statistics offered by NGOs and academic
researchers, and c) the results of an original household survey carried out in PNR
Bangkal, one of Manila's many informal settlements.
The research seeks to develop a more appropriate, multidimensional and participatory
concept of poverty for Manila than the purely money-metric approach applied by the
government. The official methodology results in very low, falling, and seemingly
unrealistic poverty levels for this Southeast Asian megacity with its attendant
problems. According to official statistics, poverty dropped from 23% of families in
1985 to 7.1% in 1997. The thesis raises questions about the assumptions that inform
these measures. For example, the official surveys do not include in their sample
people without official and permanent residence. As they tend to reside in informal
settlements, the poorest are thus almost certainly excluded.
Highlighting the multidimensional nature of deprivation, the primary research in PNR
Bangkal was based on a combination of both quantitative and qualitative approaches
to the study of poverty. Questionnaires were completed for 155 households, or one
third of the population of the settlement. These were then followed by in-depth
qualitative interviews with five respondents in order to enrich the survey data. The
study included but went beyond income and expenditure analysis. The survey results
were analysed using an asset vulnerability framework. Findings include an 'official'
poverty incidence of 36% of families and a self-perceived poverty incidence of 79%.
The survey also revealed high levels of deprivation and vulnerability related to labour,
housing, human capital, and social capital.