Friday, September 5, 2014

Selective use of economic growth statistics masks inner rot in #Philippines' economy


There are better barometers to measuring the economic health of a country than GDP figures alone. The problem with GDP is that it does not measure income inequality, income distribution, economic sustainability, poverty incidence, education, health, employment and standard of living. What benefit does GDP growth provide if most of that economic growth is enjoyed by the richest 10% of the population, and if most of that growth is centered on unsustainable ventures like real estate and consumerism funded by OFW remittances?

The country barely makes anything, barely exploits its natural resources and has weak manufacturing, on top of a degrading infrastructure, increasing crime, environmental degradation, and lack of innovation due in part to the brain drain (per net emigration).

There's the country's per capita income (both nominal and PPP) which, when compared to overall global rankings the Philippines places 124th and 130th respectively. This is GDP divided by a country's total population and it is quite low in fact. In contrast, Malaysia has a per capita income (nominal) that ranks 61st in IMF rankings, while Singapore ranks 8th. Never have I heard it being mentioned anywhere in Philippine news media nor in any blog looking at the country's economy with a superficial lens.

But let's not stop there. There's also HDI (Human Development Index) that measures overall quality of life in a country. The Philippines ranks 117th, again quite low in international rankings.

45% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, more than 25% of the population lives below the poverty line, and unemployment is around 7% (which does not count underemployment which stands at around 20% and 40% of those employed work in the informal sector).

Other social barometers include infant mortality ranks 99 in the world, maternal mortality at 74, life expectancy at 134.

Foreign direct investment is one of the lowest in Asia and is outpaced by remittances. Heck, we haven't even started with education, sanitation, as well as transparency, ease of doing business and many more which the Philippines fares poorly in.

If you take all of these factors into consideration, you'd see that GDP growth alone is a meaningless measurement of a country economic and social health.

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http://getrealphilippines.com/blog/2014/09/noynoy-aquino-cannot-take-all-the-credit-for-the-philippines-economic-gains/comment-page-1/#comment-684513

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