The SWS Valentine surveys
The fourth quarter of 2002 was when Social Weather Stations first ran, just for fun, a couple of survey questions about Valentine’s Day, to be released the following February. That survey found that 58 percent of Filipino adults were very happy (napakasaya), 32 percent wished they were happier (sana mas masaya pa), and 10 percent didn’t have any love life (walang buhay-pag-ibig).
The second time SWS ran this item was in late 2004, when we found that those very happy were 46 percent. That was a huge drop of 12 points, which got absorbed by those that “could be happier.” It wasn’t until 2010, six years later, that we surveyed this for the third time, and found that those very happy had recovered by 9 points, to 55 percent.
During 2011 to 2020, always in the last quarter, SWS repeated the item 9 times (annually except 2013). The record lowest very happy is the 46 percent of 2004; the peak was 59 percent in 2011. We have not tried to explain the fluctuations; all are welcome to theorize.
The newest figure, as surveyed in November 2020 and saved for our 2021 Valentine release, is 50 percent very happy with love life, or 4 points less than a year ago. That’s the national average of 44 percent in the National Capital Region, 47 percent in Balance Luzon, 51 percent in Visayas, and 59 percent in Mindanao. Given the error margin of plus/minus 6 points in each area, this shows southerners happier in love than northerners (as of late 2020 anyway).
The latest survey has 18 percent without a love life, a new record high in the entire series that began in 2002. By the way, we don’t notice any statistical relation of happiness in love life to anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrating Valentine’s. Happy love life is what SWS tracks from year to year, but there are other items it has probed, thanks to the initiative of veteran survey manager Vladymir Licudine. Our 2021 Valentine report includes the intention to celebrate Valentine’s Day: 39 percent say they are likely to celebrate it, 27 percent say they are unlikely to do so, and the rest are undecided. I read that as a weak +11 (rounded correctly) net intention to celebrate.
What makes absolute sense is the strong connection of celebrating Valentine’s to having a happy love life: The net intention to celebrate is +28 for the 50 percent with a very happy love life, +16 for the 31 percent who wish they could be happier, and a very negative -43 for the 18 percent with no love life.
What do Pinoys look for in a love partner? There are clues to this in past SWS Valentine reports (www.sws.org.ph), like last year’s “4/5 of Pinoys more attracted to brains than body,” 2/14/20, written by Marco Mercado, tabulations by Clarence Magano. That survey also found that 70 percent chose a partner for health, 23 percent chose for love, and only 7 percent chose for money.
Our 2019 report: “50% of Pinoys say age gap matters in a relationship; women are relatively unwilling to be with somebody younger; 51% are ‘very happy’ with their love life,” 2/13/19, written by Asherel Joy Zaide and Fernel Ted Paguinto, tabulations by Joanne Evangelista. That survey probed attitudes toward a prospective partner 10 years older or 10 years younger.
2018: “55% of Pinoys would choose career over love life; 57% are very happy with their love lives,” 2/3/18, written by Christine Belle E. Torres, tabulations by Aileen M. Montibon.
2017: “44% of Pinoys believe that falling in love with more than one person at a time is possible; 55% are very happy with their love lives,” written by Krisia Santos and Dankarl Magpayo, 2/9/17. Nineteen percent said they had actually experienced it.
2016: “67% of Pinoys believe in a ‘long distance relationship’; 73% believe in ‘forever’ or ‘magpakailanman,’” 2/11/16, by Vladymir Joseph Licudine and Asherel Joy Zaide.
Those who think social statistics are boring probably haven’t peeked into the SWS archives.
Contact [email protected]
Your daily dose of fearless views
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.