Very historic, very sad | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Very historic, very sad

The simple question as to whether one feels better, the same, or worse compared to a year ago—whatever is being referred to as “better,” “the same,” or “worse”—is the oldest in the survey book, dating back to the 1930s in the United States.

In the Philippines, it dates to April 1983, when 28 percent felt that their quality of life (uri ng pamumuhay) or QOL improved, and 31 percent felt that it worsened, compared to 12 months earlier, in a Development Academy of the Philippines national survey, the precursor of the SWS surveys.


The very first Gainers minus Losers score in history was 28 – 31 = -3, a single-digit negative, which we now classify as “Fair.”

Now, 135 surveys later, comes the historic finding of the worst quality of life trend in the past 37 years: “SWS May 4-10, 2020 COVID-19 Mobile Phone Survey, Report No. 11: 83% of Filipinos got worse off in the past 12 months—the worst in survey history,”, 6/18/20.


An unprecedented finding is very exciting for a researcher; but this one is very sad for any Filipino to see. Only 6 percent felt better off, for a record low Net Gainers score of -78 (rounded correctly).

In the last previous SWS survey, in December 2019, Gainers were 39 percent, and Losers were 21 percent, for a Net Gainers score of +18, which we consider “Very High,” because only 13 of the 135 surveys registered Net Gainers of +10 or more. In fact, only 21 of all the surveys found Gainers exceeding Losers.

The 96-point fall from +18 to -78 is the worst collapse in history. What is most disappointing is the fact that Net Gainers had been consistently positive in all quarterly SWS surveys since 2015Q1, with the sole exception of 2018Q3, when it was -2. The recent five-year period of 2015-19 was a rare time when the economic growth was benefiting a plurality, rather than a minority, of the people.

The SWS Net Gainers score tracks consistently with the Bangko Sentral’s consumer confidence, current-quarter, indicator, which was net +1.3 in its January 29-February 10, 2020 Consumer Expectations Survey (CES), i.e., just before the COVID-19 crisis struck. Its only difference from the SWS indicator is that it refers to “family financial situation” and “family income.”

It is clear that the collapse in Net Gainers happened on account of the government-imposed community quarantines. The QOL of over 80 million Filipinos plummeted because the people were prevented from pursuing their regular livelihoods, not because they themselves, or their relatives, were getting ill from the coronavirus. All of the 4 million stranded persons (see my 6/13/20 column) are separated from families, somewhere in the country; those left behind are also Losers.

Losers are everywhere, in equally plentiful measure: 82 percent of Metro Manilans, 81 percent of other Luzonians, 87 percent of Visayans, and 86 percent of Mindanaoans.

As usual, the Losers are proportionally more among the relatively disadvantaged: 92 percent among those experiencing hunger, versus 82 percent among those that, fortunately, are not; 91 percent among elementary dropouts, 87 percent among high school dropouts, 84 percent of those that finished junior high school, and 75 percent of college graduates. Everyone in the forest slid down, but those clinging to the lower branches slid more.


(The presidential spokesman affects puzzlement as to why the Losers are not 100 percent. How could there still be some Gainers, i.e., amounting to 6 percent? But is it hard to think of occupations and industries benefited by the pandemic? How about providers of delivery services, and operators of state-permitted means of transportation and communication? How about suppliers of COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment?)

Contact [email protected]

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: development academy of the Philippines, Filipinos, quality of life, survey, SWS
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.