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SOCIAL WEATHER REPORT | Hunger rises from 9.8% in September to 12.6% in December 2023


  •   7 min reads
SOCIAL WEATHER REPORT | Hunger rises from 9.8% in September to 12.6% in December 2023
By Social Weather Station
  • Moderate Hunger 11.2%, Severe Hunger 1.4%
  • Hunger rises sharply among the Self-Rated Poor and  Self-Rated Food Poor

The national Social Weather Survey of December 8-11, 2023, found that 12.6% of Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger – being hungry and not having anything to eat – at least once in the past three months.

Compared to September 2023, hunger rose by 2.8 points from 9.8%.

This brings the 2023 annual hunger rate to 10.7%, 1.0 point below the 11.7% average in 2022 but 1.4 points above the pre-pandemic 9.3% average in 2019 [Charts 1 and 2, Table 1].

Hunger rises in all areas except in Metro Manila

As of December 2023, the experience of hunger was highest in Balance Luzon (or Luzon outside Metro Manila) at 14.3%, followed by Metro Manila at 12.7%, Mindanao at 12.0%, and the Visayas at 9.3% of families [Chart 3, Table 2].

The 2.8-point rise in hunger between September 2023 and December 2023 was due to increases in Mindanao, Balance Luzon, and the Visayas, combined with a decline in Metro Manila.

Compared to September 2023, the incidence of hunger rose by 5.3 points in Mindanao, from 6.7% to 12.0%.

It rose by 4.0 points in Balance Luzon, from 10.3% to 14.3%.

It rose by 2.6 points in the Visayas, from 6.7% to 9.3%.

However, it fell by 4.6 points in Metro Manila, from 17.3% to 12.7%.

Moderate Hunger 11.2%, Severe Hunger 1.4%

The 12.6% hunger rate in December 2023 was the sum of 11.2% who experienced Moderate Hunger and 1.4% who experienced Severe Hunger.

Moderate Hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months. Meanwhile, Severe Hunger refers to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the previous three months.

Compared to September 2023, Moderate Hunger rose by 2.8 points from 8.4%, while Severe Hunger hardly moved from 1.3%.

In Metro Manila, Moderate Hunger fell by 3.6 points from 13.3% in September 2023 to 9.7% in December 2023, while Severe Hunger fell by 1.0 point from 4.0% to 3.0% [Chart 4,  Table 3].

In Balance Luzon, Moderate Hunger rose by 4.3 points from 9.0% to 13.3%, while Severe Hunger hardly moved from 1.3% to 1.0% [Chart 5, Table 4].

In the Visayas, Moderate Hunger rose by 2.3 points from 5.7% to 8.0%, while Severe Hunger hardly moved from 1.0% to 1.3% [Chart 6, Table 5].

In Mindanao, Moderate Hunger rose by 4.0 points from 6.7% to 10.7%, while Severe Hunger rose from 0% to 1.3% [Chart 7, Table 6].

Hunger rises sharply among the Self-Rated Poor and Self-Rated Food Poor

The December 2023 survey found 47% of Filipino families rating themselves as Mahirap or Poor, 33% rating themselves as Borderline (by placing themselves on a horizontal line dividing Poor and Not Poor), and 20% rated themselves as Hindi Mahirap or Not Poor (“SOCIAL WEATHER REPORT | 47% of Filipino families feel Poor, similar to 48% in September 2023; 33% feel Borderline, and 20% feel Not Poor,” January 17, 2024, www.sws.org.ph).

On the other hand, based on the type of food eaten by their families, the December 2023 survey found 32% of families rating themselves as Food-Poor, 41% rating themselves as Food Borderline (by placing themselves on the horizontal line dividing Food-Poor and Not Food-Poor), and 26% rating themselves Not Food-Poor.

The rate of Total Hunger (i.e., Moderate plus Severe) rose sharply among the Self-Rated Poor, from 7.7% in September 2023 to 20.1% in December 2023, while it fell among the Non-Poor (Not Poor plus Borderline Poor) from 10.4% to 5.9% [Chart 8].

The rate of Total Hunger also rose sharply among the Self-Rated Food-Poor, from 7.0% to 25.5%, while it fell among the Non-Food-Poor (Not Food-Poor plus Borderline Food-Poor) from 11.0% to 6.5% [Chart 9].

Survey background

The Fourth Quarter 2023 Social Weather Survey was conducted from December 8 to 11, 2023, using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon (or Luzon outside Metro Manila), the Visayas, and Mindanao. Face-to-face is the standard interviewing method for Social Weather Stations; the only exceptions were early in the pandemic when movement restrictions made face-to-face impossible and mobile phone interviews were conducted. Normal face-to-face field operations resumed in November 2020. The sampling error margins are ±2.8% for national percentages, and ±5.7% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The area estimates were weighted by the Philippine Statistics Authority medium-population projections for 2023 to obtain the national estimates.

The SWS survey questions on the family’s experience of Hunger, Self-Rated Poverty, and Self-Rated Food Poverty are directed to household heads. These items are non-commissioned and are included on SWS’s initiative and released as a public service.

Hunger. The exact phrasing of the survey questions (the source language is Filipino; English translation included) on Hunger was:

Nitong nakaraang tatlong buwan, nangyari po ba kahit minsan na ang inyong pamilya ay nakaranas ng gutom at wala kayong makain? (OO, HINDI) [In the last three months, did it happen even once that your family experienced hunger and not have anything to eat? (YES, NO)].

IF EXPERIENCED HUNGER: Nangyari po ba ‘yan ng MINSAN LAMANG, MGA ILANG BESES, MADALAS, o PALAGI? [Did it happen ONLY ONCE, A FEW TIMES, OFTEN, or ALWAYS?]”

Moderate Hunger refers to those who experienced hunger “Only Once” or “A Few Times” in the last three months, while Severe Hunger refers to those who experienced it “Often” or “Always” in the last three months.

Self-Rated Poverty and Self-Rated Food Poverty. In 2020, Self-Rated Poverty and Self-Rated Food Poverty were fielded only once because only in November 2020 was SWS able to resume face-to-face interviewing since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Face-to-face interviewing is necessary for these questions since they require showing the respondents a card with the words MAHIRAP and HINDI MAHIRAP, separated by a LINE, written on it [Figure 1]. The three SWS Mobile Phone Surveys earlier that year implemented purely oral survey questions.

The exact phrasing of the survey questions for Self-Rated Poverty and Self-Rated Food Poverty was:

Saan po ninyo ilalagay ang inyong pamilya sa kard na ito? [Where would you place your family in this card?] (SHOW CARD - DO NOT READ)

Tungkol naman sa klase ng pagkain ng pamilya ninyo, saan po ninyo ilalagay ang inyong pamilya sa kard na ito? [Based on the type of food eaten by your family, where would you place your family on this card?] (SHOW CARD - DO NOT READ).” 

Figure 1

Half of the respondents are shown a card with the choices HINDI MAHIRAP (Not poor) and MAHIRAP (Poor), separated by a horizontal line (recorded as ‘Borderline Poor’), while the other half are shown a card containing the reverse order (negative showcard), to lessen response bias.

To arrive at the estimated numbers of Self-Rated Poor and Self-Rated Food-Poor families, the percentage of respondent households rating themselves as poor was applied to the Philippine Statistics Authority medium-population projections for 2023.

SWS employs its own staff for questionnaire design, sampling, fieldwork, data processing, and analysis, and does not outsource any of its survey operations. This report was prepared by Leo S. Laroza. 


Chart 1


Chart 2

Chart 3

Chart 4

Chart 5

Chart 6

Chart 7

Chart 8

Chart 9

Table 1

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Table 5

Table 6


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