Government of the Philippines adopts multidimensional poverty measure

The Government of the Philippines has adopted an official multidimensional poverty measure in its updated Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016). The measure has been used to set a key poverty reduction target in an effort to secure inclusive growth and improvements in quality of life in the country, which has nearly 97 million inhabitants.

The updated plan, which spells out the government’s policy actions and investment priorities in 2014-2016, pledges to reduce the incidence of multidimensional poverty to 16-18 percent.

The new multidimensional poverty indicator is based on the Alkire Foster method for multidimensional measurement, developed at OPHI by Sabina Alkire and Professor James Foster. It has been adapted to the national context and priorities of the Philippines.

Balisacan-for-web“Multidimensional poverty incidence, unlike income poverty, looks at deprivation in various dimensions – health, education, access to water, sanitation, secure housing, etc. This indicator can then track the supposed outcomes of the different human development strategies, which impact on future income poverty,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary of the Philippines, Arsenio M. Balisacan (left), of the mid-term update. The Plan seeks to substantially reduce poverty by improving the skill sets of the poorest families and helping get the poor into work.

In September 2013, Balisacan spoke at the UN General Assembly about the benefits of using a multidimensional approach to measuring poverty. He explained that strong economic growth in the Philippines had not translated into expected reductions in income poverty. But a multidimensional poverty measure showed important improvements in other aspects of peoples’ lives – particularly in access to services, education and the accumulation of assets.

You can read a paper on ‘What Has Really Happened to Poverty in the Philippines? New Measures, Evidence, and Policy Implications’ by Arsenio M. Balisacan here.

The additional information provided by a multidimensional poverty measure – which acts as a ‘high resolution’ lens on poverty – has sparked much interest among policymakers worldwide. In June 2013, the global Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network was launched, in response to overwhelming demand for information on implementing such measures.

The Philippines is a key participant in this growing network of innovators in the use of multidimensional poverty measures for more effective poverty reduction.