Poverty in the Philippines

As of 2018, a quarter of the 105 million Philippine population lived in poverty, that is, over 26 million people. Through various anti-poverty programs, such as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform, Lingap Para sa Mahirap, and the Social Reform Agenda, the Philippines has been through a long battle to ameliorate that statistic. Despite these governmental efforts, the Millennium Development Goal milestone of reduction in poverty has been a slow process.

The poor in the Philippines are most likely self-employed farmers, fishermen, or other agricultural workers. Three-quarters of these people live in severe disaster-risk areas that are highly rural. In 2015, about 58 percent of poor households have more than six members.

Education overall has improved over time; from the ages of 15–24, over 75 percent have completed secondary education or above in 2015. Specifically in poor households, however, over 60 percent of families have education only up to elementary school.

Of those who live in poverty, in 2012, 18.4 million people accounted for extreme poverty, living with about $1.25 per day. The challenges that such people face are vulnerability to natural disasters, weak governance, inadequate health services, lack of natural resources, and more. The poor face an expensive process of recovering from vulnerability, just to face another conflict which then restarts the cycle.


“Poverty” is defined as an economic condition by the lack of both money and basic necessities needed to successfully live, such as food, water, utilities, and housing. There are many working definitions of “poverty”, with considerable debate on how to best define the term.

Lack of income security, economic stability and the predictability of one’s continued means to meet basic needs all serve as absolute indicators of poverty. Poverty may therefore also be defined as the economic condition of lacking predictable and stable means of meeting basic life needs.

Percent of population (including non-citizens) living under $1.90, $3.20 and $5.50 a day:

Philippines: 6.1% <$1.90, 26.0% <$3.20, and 55.1% <$5.50 per day (2015)