Contrary to the common belief, social class is more than just about how much money you’re making. Sociologists actually define social class as a group of people with similar socioeconomic status or standing within the society based on the level of income, education, and occupation.
Social classes range from low to high and often reveal dissimilarities in terms of power, influence, and access to resources and privileges.
There has been a plethora of debate about what makes one classified as poor, middle class, and rich. And, to give clarification to that, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has released its profile and determinants of the middle-income class in the Philippines, which also explains on the poor, rich, and more.
This study by Jose Albert, Angelo Santos, Jana Vizmanos, conducted in 2018, divides the social classes into poor, low-income but not poor, lower-middle, middle, upper-middle, upper-middle but not rich, and rich. Although the brackets were determined depending on pooled monthly income.
According to the study, the largest income group in terms of households and persons are the low income (but not poor), while—no surprise—the rich made up the least with 143,000 households and 360,000 persons. Click here to see the infographic on what makes a Filipino poor, middle class, or rich.
The latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that majority (58.4%) of Filipinos belong to the low-income class, while the middle class comprises around 40% of the population. Only 1.4% fall in the high-income class.
According to PSA, the current official poverty threshold in the Philippines is PHP 10,481, which is the minimum amount a family of five needs in a month to buy their basic food and non-food items. If your family income is higher than the poverty threshold, the government doesn’t consider you poor.
In the midst of the Novel Coronavirus crisis, the government has been prioritizing the poorest of the poor in terms of providing financial support. It has said to have allocated PHP 200 billion for the social amelioration program to help 18 million low-income households tide over for two months during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. Each of these families will receive cash aid between PHP 5,000 and PHP 8,000.
It was just last year when several senators asked the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to create a new economic classification system to help policymakers with several government programs. With the coronavirus pandemic and increasing poor households, the PIDS' study needs to be updated.
According to NEDA chief Karl Kendrick Chua, there are 26 million families as of the latest projections. Out of the 26 million, 18 million are low-income—low-income meaning below the minimum wage of their region but not necessarily poor because the government defines the poor as those below the poverty threshold.