Here's What Makes You Poor, Middle Class, or Rich in the Philippines

Loosely defining the different income classes in the Philippines.

There's been much debate about what makes one poor, middle class, and rich. And, to answer that, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has released its profile and determinants of the middle-income class in the Philippines, which also expounds on the poor, rich, and more.

Top Story: The 9 Richest Filipinos Are Wealthier Than Half the Philippine Population

The 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. The brackets were determined depending on pooled monthly income.

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. See what makes a Filipino poor, middle class, or rich below.

Photo by PAOLO CHUA.

On September 17, 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.


There are [a total of] 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," NEDA chief Karl Kendrick Chua said.

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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