The Philippines Among the Worst in Income Inequality in Asia, According to the World Bank

The World Bank still noted the Philippines' progress over the past three decades.
IMAGE FLICKR/ Phil Whitehouse

The World Bank published its "Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in the Philippines: Past, Present, and Prospects for the Future" report recently. While the country has made strides to reduce poverty in the past three decades, it still has one of the widest wealth gaps in Asia.

“Inequality of opportunity and low mobility across generations wastes human potential and slow down innovation, which is crucial for building a competitive and prosperous economy that will, in turn, improve the well-being and quality of life of all Filipinos,” said Ndiamé Diop, the World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

According to the agency's data, the Philippines ranked 15th out of 63 countries in income equality. The top one percent of Philippine earners were said to have accounted for 17 percent of the country's total national income. Meanwhile, earners in the lower 50 percent only captured 14 percent of the share. Only in Thailand is income inequality greater in the East Asia and the Pacific region. The Philippines, however, still ranked better than countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and China in the global standings.

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The World Bank, nevertheless, mentioned the progress the Philippines has had over the years. It had found out that the country was able to reduce poverty from 49.2 percent in 1985 to 16.7 percent in 2018. The middle class had also increased in size, going from roughly 12 million people to 44 million.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' consumption inequality trended better against the world rankings. The country was placed at 30th out of 72 in that area.

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“The Philippines aims to become a middle-class society free of poverty by 2040, but we know from global experience that no country has managed to make this transition while maintaining high levels of inequality,” noted Diop.

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