EXCEPT for those living in Metro Manila and Calabarzon, most Filipino parents need to maintain three to four jobs at a time just to support themselves and their children, according to the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom).
Undersecretary for Population and Development Juan Antonio A. Perez III said this reflects not only the larger family sizes in other regions outside of the National Capital Region and Calabarzon, but also the very low wages in these areas.
Perez said more than just monitoring the size of families, government efforts must also be directed at improving the lives of families through the review of the minimum wage. Families need living wages to survive.
“Why is it that the P500 daily wage of a worker in NCR can’t be enjoyed by someone from Region 1, for instance, who takes home only P282?” Perez said. “It defies logic that the salaries of those living in areas where hardship is at a high level, and with large family sizes, are just about one-half of those in Metro Manila. We believe it is unjust for parents to labor on three to four jobs just to support a family of four. Opportunities for livelihood and support should be concentrated in poverty-stricken areas.”
Based on a recent Popcom-United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) study, as regional minimum wages increase, the support ratio (SR) for Filipino families improves.
Popcom said in regions where wages are higher, this enables two workers per family to be able to provide for two children, with some savings set aside.
Based on the study, the “regional SR,” or the average number of people a wage earner supports, includes himself or herself. In Calabarzon, for instance, the 0.5 support ratio means that a wage earner subsidizes one more person apart from himself/herself.
An SR lower than 0.5, such as in the Bangsamoro Region at 0.26, has more than 2 persons being subsidized by a worker, which takes away from a family more resources for savings and investments.
A higher SR, like in the NCR at 0.62, implies there are more earning workers, which creates a more viable environment for economic growth.
Perez noted a “significant positive correlation” between a region’s minimum wage and its SR; and that as the minimum wage rises, the SR also goes up, and vice versa.
He recommended that the national government and concerned sectors implement “national objective family living wages,” or a decent collective income to effect proper development of a Filipino household, who will not just survive under a “minimum wage.”
“It is high time we converse about genuine development of Filipino families—not only in a number of regions, but nationwide. Now is the time to discuss not just family planning, but also other goals that can help Filipinos, and one of those is their living wage. That is our message for this year’s Popdev Week,” Perez said.
Popcom celebrates the Population and Development (Popdev) Week between November 23 and 29. It is an annual celebration based on Proclamation 76 signed on October 20, 1992, by then President Fidel Ramos.
The Week highlights the need for an invigorated and intensified campaign to address problems in the pace of the Philippine population growth and the country’s capability to provide for a growing nation.