Filipinos got better off in 2015-16
For eight consecutive quarters now, or two full years, more Filipinos have gotten better off than worse off. This is the longest period of steady improvement in the quality of life of the Filipino people ever since 1983, as surveyed by Social Weather Stations.
By asking survey respondents if their Quality of Life (QOL) improved, worsened, or remained the same in the last 12 months, SWS directly measures the trend in QOL. The term “trend” means the change over a period of time. It is different from the term “status,” which is the situation at a given point in time.
SWS surveyed the QOL trend three times in the Marcos years (1983-85), 13 times in the Cory Aquino years (1986-92), 26 times in the Ramos years (1992-98), 12 times in the Estrada years (1992-00), 42 times in the Arroyo years (2001-10), 24 times in the P-Noy years (2010-16), and twice so far during President Rodrigo Duterte’s young administration. This is the longest time-series of any of the SWS survey indicators.
From 1983 to 2014, those who got better off (the gainers) never exceeded those who got worse off (the losers) except in two surveys—in May 1986, when democracy was newly restored, and in March 1987, after the new Constitution was ratified.
On the other hand, throughout 2015 and 2016, there has been a steady surplus of gainers over losers—in the last six quarters under President Benigno Aquino III, and the first two quarters under Mr. Duterte. Last week, SWS reported that, as of December 2016, 37 percent of adults said they were gainers, and 21 percent said they were losers, for a net +16 score.
Gainers were always dominant in the National Capital Region and in the Balance of Luzon in the eight quarters of 2015-16. In the Visayas, they were dominant throughout 2016. In Mindanao, they were dominant in six of the eight quarters.
By area, the latest net gainers scores are: +20 in NCR, +13 in the Balance of Luzon, +11 in Visayas and +24 in Mindanao. For Mindanao to have the highest net gainers score is extremely rare. It only happened twice in the last 34 years.
For three decades, positive surpluses of gainers over losers were enjoyed only by the ABC, or middle-to-upper, classes. Then in December 2014, the D or masa began to have a surplus of gainers, and maintained it up to the end of 2016. The E or very poor class had a surplus of gainers in six of the eight quarters of 2015-16. The December 2016 net gainers scores are +30 for ABC, +17 for D, and +10 for E.
SWS also surveys both actual and expected trends in QOL. The figures about actual trends report how the survey respondents actually progressed in the past year. There is a separate survey question that asks if the respondent expects his/her QOL to get better, get worse, or remain the same over the coming year. These expectations of the future, will permit classification of the people into personal optimists or personal pessimists.
A third trend indicator is the expectation of whether the economy in general will improve, deteriorate, or stay the same after another year. It separates economic optimists from economic pessimists.
These three indicators show the general trends in the economic wellbeing of the people. They are separate from the trends in the social and political situation, as evidenced by changes in criminality, corruption, peace prospects with rebel groups, the state of the environment, and so forth. Does success in economic matters make it easier to tolerate failures in other dimensions of life?