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Inclusivity has suddenly dropped

/ 05:12 AM August 18, 2018

Obviously, economic growth does not affect people equally. Some get better off, and may be called gainers. Others get worse off, or are losers. Still others have no change in level of living. The bottom line depends on which of these groups dominates.

When gainers exceed losers, one can say that the growth is inclusive. But, historically, this is seldom. It has happened in only 13 percent of 129 national surveys of SWS (1986-2016) and its precursors (1983-85).

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In 70 percent of the said surveys, losers outnumbered gainers by at least 10 percentage points, i.e., development was definitely non-inclusive. In 17 percent of them, losers outnumbered gainers by 9 points or less, which is statistically insignificant, so a generous person could say that economic growth was neutral.

Inclusivity started in 2015. Fortunately, since 2015, gainers have outnumbered losers. For a change, growth became steadily inclusive (see “Filipinos got better off in 2015-16,” Opinion, 2/18/17).

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The point spread of gainers over losers, called Net Gainers, was +3 to +9 in the last six quarters of Noynoy Aquino’s time. Then it went double-digit in Duterte’s time. It peaked at +23 in December 2017, and fell slightly to +20 in March 2018.

But it dropped sharply to +5 in June 2018, when 32 percent were gainers, 27 percent were losers, and 41 percent had no change in quality of life in the past 12 months (see “Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Net Gainers falls to +5,” www.sws.org.ph, posted on 8/16/18).

This national net +5 is “High” by historical standards. It is still a double-digit “Very High” in Mindanao (+14). But it has dropped to a single digit in Metro Manila (+1) and Balance Luzon (+9). It is now a double-digit negative in the Visayas (-11), which was evidently excluded from progress.

The poor and the hungry are now excluded. In March 2018, the Net Gainers score of +20 was the average of +28 among the Non-Poor and +8 among the Poor. This means that the poor did benefit, though not equally. Now, as of June 2018, the Net Gainers score of +5 is the combination of +12 among the Non-Poor and -3 among the Poor, showing that the poor got worse off.

Last March, the Net Gainers were +21 among the Non-Hungry and +12 among the Severely Hungry. Now, as of June, the net scores are +6 among the Non-Hungry and -16 among the Severely Hungry, who are the worst losers of all.

Inclusivity is much more enjoyed by the upper classes. In the June survey, 47 percent in Class ABC respondents said they got better off, while 16 percent got worse off, for an Excellent net score of +31.

But the D class has 32 percent gainers and 28 percent losers, or only net +4; and the E class has 29 percent gainers and 28 percent losers, or only net +1. (The sample was 6 percent ABC, 79 percent D and 15 percent E.)

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Inclusivity favors those with more schooling. In June, the percentages of gainers were 26 among those who did not finish elementary, 31 among those who did not finish high school, 32 among those with up to some college, and 40 among college graduates.

On the other hand, the percentages of losers were 30 among elementary leavers, 28 among high school leavers, 26 among those with up to some college, and 23 among college graduates.

Consequently, the net gainers scores of these four schooling groups were -4, +3, +6 and +17 respectively. Note that those without full elementary schooling are net losers.

Why quibble about whether the economy grew by 6.5 or 6.3 percent? Remember that such numbers are about economic production, rather than about the people benefiting from it.

Contact [email protected]

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