(STAR) By Helen Flores - The number of Filipinos who rate themselves as “poor” has declined in the past three months, the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed.

The SWS Fourth Quarter 2007 survey found that 46 percent or 8.1 million families said they are poor, lower than the 52 percent recorded in September last year.

“Self-rated poverty has been on a generally downward trend since mid-2006,” the SWS said.

The poll showed self-rated poverty declining in all areas.

It fell by 15 points in Mindanao, from 68 percent last September to 53 percent in December.

It declined slightly in the Visayas, from 47 to 42 percent; in Metro Manila, from 41 to 39 percent; and in the rest of Luzon, from 50 to 46 percent.

Self-rated poverty fell by 10 points in rural areas, from 63 percent to 53 percent. It declined by five points in urban areas, from 44 to 39 percent.

“Rural self-rated poverty has been below 60 percent for the most part of 2004-2007, and is customarily higher than urban self-rated poverty. The urban-rural gap narrowed to single-digit in 2005 and 2006, when rural self-rated poverty alleviated and urban self-rated poverty worsened,” the SWS said.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults divided into random samples of 300 each in Metro Manila, the balance of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Meanwhile, SWS said the self-rated poverty threshold, or the monthly budget that poor households need in order not to consider themselves poor in general, has been sluggish for several years despite considerable inflation. “This indicates that poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening,” it added.

The median poverty threshold for poor households in Mindanao went to P8,000, an amount already reached in July 2001. It had already been at P10,000 in December 1999.

It stayed at P10,000 in Metro Manila, even though it had already reached as much as P15,000 several times in the past, and at P5,000 in the Visayas, even if it has already been at P10,000 before.

For those in balance Luzon, the median poverty threshold went down to P5,000. It had already been at P10,000 before.

In Metro Manila in particular, the poverty threshold has considerably weakened against the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which rose by over 40 percent from the base year of 2000, SWS said.

The December 2007 median poverty threshold of P10,000 per month in Metro Manila is equivalent to only P6,780 in base year 2000 purchasing power, or a throwback to living standards of twenty years ago, it said.

The SWS survey has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percent for national percentages and plus or minus six percent for area percentages.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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