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Defining who’s rich: How rich is “rich” in the Philippines?


Who are considered “rich” in the Philippines?

It’s supposedly easy if we define “rich” as those belonging to the list of the Top 10 Richest Filipinos. However, even if your net worth does not run into billions of pesos, you may still be considered “rich” as per the definition of the National Statical Coordination Board (NSCB).

Based on the NSCB computations, using the Family Income and Expenditure Surveys (FIES) and the Labor Force Survey (LFS), a family in the Philippines must earn at least PhP 2,393,126 a year or PhP 199,927 a month to be counted as part of the high-income class in 2010.

Simply stated, your family should be earning P200,000 a month or P2.4 million a year to be considered “rich” in the Philippines.

The Rich, the Poor and the Middle Class

Rich people are indeed a rarity, with rich families numbering only 20,000 or 0.1% of the total 17.4 million families in the country.

The middle class, on the other hand, earns an average of P36,934 per month. This translates to around P500,000 per year.

The low income class, meanwhile, earns an average of P9,061 per month or around P110,000 per year.

Predictors of Wealth

The NSCB also identified three predictors that are consistently significant for the high income group. These are:

  1. household head working as corporate executives, managers, managing proprietors, supervisors, officials of government and special interest organizations;
  2. household owns at least three air conditioning units; and
  3. owns at least three cars / vehicles

This means if the household head is a top executive or business owner or a politician, the family owns at least 3 cars, and their house has at least 3 aircon units, then that family is most probably rich.

Breakdown of Family Expenditures

All families regardless of income spend more on food and rent/rental value of their house.

Food expense of high income families, however, represent only 21% or one-fifth of total expenditures while for the low income families, this already reaches 53.4%.

This figure only goes to show that the poor already spend half of their hard-earned money on food.

For the high-income families, their top 3 expenditures are:

  • Food – 21.1%
  • Housing and shelter – 16.6%
  • Transportation and communication – 12.5%

Middle-class families share the same top expenditures, although their spending has a different percentage compared to the high-income families:

  • Food – 34.8%
  • Housing and shelter – 13.9%
  • Transportation and communication – 9.8%

Low-income families do prioritize spending on the basic essentials, such as food, housing, and utilities such as fuel, light and water:

  • Food – 53.4%
  • Housing and shelter – 10.7%
  • Fuel, light and water – 7.7%

Top Expenditures of Filipino Families

Expenditure Item High Income Middle Income Low Income
Food 21.1% 34.8% 53.4%
Rent/rental value of occupied dwelling units 16.6% 13.9% 10.7%
Transportation and communication 12.5% 9.8% 5.3%
Fuel, light and water 5.6% 7.7% 7.7%
Taxes 5.4%    
Education   5.9%  
Personal Care and Effects     3.9%
Others 38.8% 27.9% 19.0%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Now that you know who the rich and poor are in the Philippines, where do you categorize yourself? Are you part of the high income, the middle income, or the low income segment of the Philippines?

Source: NSCB

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45 thoughts on “Defining who’s rich: How rich is “rich” in the Philippines?”

  1. Allan @ Rich Money Habits says:

    Interesting article. I didn’t know you can predict a person’s wealth by the number of air-conditioned units they own! :-)
    .-= Allan @ Rich Money Habits´s latest blog ..Jomar Hilario Internet Marketing Workshop Club Review =-.

  2. Jay Castillo says:

    Nice post James, very interesting statistics. Personally I would rather stick to the definition that focuses on one’s monthly cashflow, rather than just basing it on net-worth or monthly income. This was my answer to one of my readers who asked me to define who is rich and who is poor.
    .-= Jay Castillo´s latest blog ..How do you define being “rich”? =-.

  3. Jonha @ Happiness says:

    Hi James,

    Got a quick question, how did you make the table? Seriously, I had a hard time making one to the point that I resorted into Google Doc’s Spreadsheet.

    Interesting gauge of how rich a rich person is.
    .-= Jonha @ Happiness´s latest blog ..Stay Away from Philippine Prudential Life Insurance Promos as they are Scammers!!!! =-.

  4. Tim | Every Peso Counts says:

    Alright, I already have one air conditioning unit. I just need 2 more and I’d be wealthy. Lolz! Just kidding. :)
    .-= Tim | Every Peso Counts´s latest blog ..What To Do With Assets Left Behind =-.

  5. Clustermind says:

    This is a very funny article. You just have to get 3 airconditioners in order to be called “RICH”.

    THE HELL! We have only 1 aircon at home.. Ceiling mount centralized airconditioner..hahahahahaha!!!!

    It’s not about how much you earn, it’s about how much you save.

  6. LearnFinancialEducation says:

    We can see here how big is the gap between the rich and the poor in the Philippines. The rich earning 200k a month while poor families earning 9k+ a month. Here in S.Korea, there is a good distribution of wealth. There are also poors here but the gap between rich and poor is not like in our country. Let’s help our people by educating them for proper financial education, how to make money in legitimate way, investing and saving wisely and properly.
    .-= LearnFinancialEducation´s latest blog ..Requirements for Opening a Bank Savings Account =-.

  7. Winziph says:

    LOL pa install na nga ako ng 3 aircon heheh
    .-= Winziph´s latest blog ..Sabrina – A Thousand Miles Lyrics =-.

  8. Rochelle says:

    The stats are an eye-opener. From where I’m at now, it’ll take more than P100k for me to be tagged as rich in this country. But I’m not rooting for the label. What’s important to me is that I’m able to control my expenditures to the minimum, stash some savings for emergency, while being able to extend financial assistance (however small) to my family members who are in need.

    1. Per Johansen says:

      Exactly, its the ability, skills to controll your expenses, spendings who result if you have good economy or not.

  9. Ninja Saga Cheats says:

    how rich is rich in the Philippines?..parang wala lang sa ibang basna..kaya yung mga mayayaman diyans a tabi tabi..wag kayo magmayabang kasi nasa Pilipinas kayo..
    .-= Ninja Saga Cheats´s latest blog ..New Weapon Released for Tensai Jounin on Ninja Saga =-.

  10. Jerome Tan says:

    Taghirap pala mga tiga Tagaytay at Baguio. Hahaha…joke lang. But interesting stats, and cashflow can actually be a bit deemed from the numbers. If you spend 70% almost on food and shelter and utilities, there is not much cash that will flow isn’t it :-) But there is an opportunity to save 10% looking at “communication” and “others”. Because that is probably what we need. The marketing force has been so strong in our country that yung mga luho ay nagiging “need”. It is really knowing what is Needed and not what is Wanted that will determine how financially stable you can be now and in the future.

  11. Brian says:

    There’s something wrong with the stats. Unless rich people actually eat 100k worth of food a month (or that does include recreational drugs?)

  12. Sean says:

    wow. interesting facts…
    Just wondering, low income families spent 3.9% for personal care while high earners doesn’t? hahaha

  13. Compare says:

    Interesting article.. It’s no wonder so many head overseas to work.. P200,000 a month is bordering on the poverty line in some countries.

    1. jk turle says:

      P2.4 million a year is around $60,000; GDP/capita of the US is only around $49,000. So that person will be part of the American middle class.

      Poverty as defined by the IMF is $2 a day consumption or $730 = P29,200 a year

    2. Per Johansen says:

      No, I live in Norway, the richest/second richest in the world with the higest average income. 200.000 pesos after taxes is not a low income at all.

  14. farneville says:

    Hey blog owner how much are you earning from your blog?
    I suppose you are earning a lot that you can be considered rich in this country???

    Cheers,

  15. Melissamercy says:

    Hi, I applaud your blog for informing people, very interesting article, keep up it coming Smile. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

  16. Diego Silang says:

    No Tax for middle and low income profile? This is a big lie! If you’ll analyze the taxation system, who burden the tax? is it the high or low class?

    Folks, in reality, taxes are absorbed by low class families or consumers. For example, the salary that the employees suppose to earned, or the price of the products they consumed are all inclusive of all type of taxes. Which means, they supposed to earn higher if no tax or pay lesser for the products they consume. Look at the chart, who is the highest consumer? In other country, taxes are absorb by the business owners but sad to say, it’s not in the Philippines.

    If you find the tax expense in the financial statements of the businessman, in substance, that is not their expenses because that expenses have been charged to their customers which is added to their revenue. In short, they are just tax collector in behalf of the government! but in some cases, did not remit the taxes that they are collected, instead enrich themselves at the expense of the low earner!

  17. Lito Panis says:

    Interesting stats!my definition of a rich person is not how high his income is or the number of cars or ac units he has, but the excess money he has after all the expenses, savings and for investments that makes money works for them.

    1. Erwin Merioles says:

      Actually, they may have a number of cars or several AC units because they already have savings and investments working for them.

  18. Raymond Selda says:

    Very nice article. This actually gives me a good long term financial goal for my Internet marketing business. Thanks!

  19. Vic - Business Tips says:

    Wow. So I’m still poor. :) But when foreigners come to the Philippines, and they bring $24,000, they are already millionaire. 

  20. philippineyogi says:

    hI! where do you get your numbers????

  21. Anonymous says:

    I can say that it still depends on your lifestyle….you can earn more and spend much much more and thus can be considered poor…

    ———————————————————————————————-Ang Investing ay hindi sa mayaman lamang. Wag sayangin ang perang pinaghirapan mo. Visit my blog:InvestmentPhilippines.com

  22. Molave Tree says:

    The statistics just shows that it is impossible to become rich in the Philippines especially if you will just be working in a government institution. Elementary school teachers, or even the Supervisors, College Instructors, LGU workers, etc. are still classified under the low-income class. At the end of the month, resibo na lang ang natira dahil ubos na ang sweldo. Kulang talaga ang kita ng mga Filipino. I just hope that our current leaders in the  country can make a difference in the lives of the Filipino people. Problema, busy sila going after GMA.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Amazing, having three cars is rich? get a real job, ok.

  24. Anonymous says:

    WOW , being a government official is rich? 

  25. Anonymous says:

    Now it can be told, Its more fun in the Philippines! buy 3 Aircon and your’e rich.

  26. Capt Del Sol says:

    This is more realistic:  for middle class: Food=40, shelter=15% and Clothing= 5%, Education=15%, Transportation=10%, Elect Bill,Water,Tel. & Miscelaneous=15%, While for law income Food=30%, Shelter, 10% Transportation=10%, Whisky=60%

  27. Dindo Pacis says:

    200K Php Gross per month sounds more like upper middle class

  28. Alfredo Cojuangco y Ozámiz says:

    Sorry but I certainly disagree with this stats. I’m not touting that I’m a part of the upper class here in the Philippines but this ONLY applies for some parts of the Philippines (e.g Manila). The rest are provincial areas in which you can get by along with 50k a month and still have some spare.

  29. Gabrielle Lopez says:

    Hi, can you post a link to the NSCB files that you mentioned above? Thanks, it would be of great help to the paper that I’m writing.

  30. Keith Benedic Mercado Real says:

    I dont think so? Maybe it depends upon a person. Just like us, my father earns half a million per month but we live just like an average.

    1. Per Johansen says:

      Then your family are stupid stupid stupid with money, no skills to run finance at all. Its possible to make 50 million pesos a month and still not have enough money.

  31. nate we says:

    So me and my family are rich? I find that hard to believe… We earn more than 200k a month and have 2 properties one in cebu and one in bulacan…and we are currently living in a condo in mandaluyong…we have 3 aircon…but dont have any car! and at the end of the month we are still most of the time short for our expenses!

    1. Per Johansen says:

      How big are your family? Im from Norway, married with a filippina. Filippinos lack of knowledge about taking care of/use money is shocking! Really shocking! Save money is a expression nobody know what means. When getting money you use them up at once! I repeat: At once! Scary stupid, not strange that the population are poor and will continue be poor. You might dont have a car because you dont manage your money good enough. Filippinos eat very expensive and a lot food. We rich norwegians, with a higher cost level i our country and higher income, we eat a looot less cheaper breakfast and lunch then average filippinos. You eat what we call dinner three times a day – and eat between these meals all the time, when its space for food in a filippino tummy, you fill it up and eat at once! Diabetes will become epidemic in your country soon. Food have a purpose: first of all for energy and nutritions, not for pleasure!

    2. nate we says:

      Wow friend.That was 3 years ago. We earn almost a million per month now. And now have a suv. I must say we are pretty content now. I am living frugally still. Same lifestyle.our income just increased.and some expenses like that car. Thanks for your reply btw.

  32. Brianmark says:

    What percentage of the population is Middle Classed?

  33. MasterMason says:

    2.4M per year is still middle class, in my opinion. That’s not even enough to buy a brand new BMW 3-series, or a decent house in Metro Manila.

  34. Per Johansen says:

    If people dont buy and use aircon they will become even richer..

  35. Angie Millares says:

    What?! So I’m rich then? Lol. We have 5 aircondition units and 3 cars and yeah, my dad is a GM (He’s the only bread winner in the Family) and we have 2 house helpers and there are 4 of us in my siblings and plus my Lola… I think it depends on how many you are in a family kay we still live like average not too “sosyal” cuz we still need to save ofcourse and both my parents are tihik most of the time but my dad just earns almost a half a million a month plus allowances and we’re still limiting ourselves from spending too much. I’m just a bit shock that we could belong to this category cuz I don’t really consider myself rich (especially my parents)

    1. Malik says:

      This is a joke right? You can’t walk around the Philippines and tell me you don’t feel rich with what you have described! You are not being serious or else you are a totally spoiled brat. How many Filipinos have your lifestyle? IN AMERICA you would not stand out for there are millions upon millions that live as you do BUT IN THE PHILIPPINES? YOU ARE VERY RICH. So , if you and your family having problem then it is YOU and your family LACK to help your Father.

  36. Malik says:

    This article is golden. I not sure I quite believe some of the comments. You know filipinos and that “saving face” craziness. You can not tell me you can not live off of 200,000 a month even with family of 4. But you can’t if you are filipino because of the mindset of spend, spend, spend, eat eat eat, and save nothing. THE ONE thing I notice when I come here is that for a 3rd world country Filipinos sure LOVE TO GO OUT AND EAT EAT EAT EAT. Money literally down the toilet. And its the poor and middle class that do.

    No concept at all of money. Loans, spend, live for the moment. And what the Norwegian said about DIABETES omg I have said myself for years AND CANCER cause the smoking is way out of hand here. This is a golden article but the comments are even better for you see where the lack is and as always its IN THE MIND AND THE CULTURE.

  37. J says:

    Even the educated ones aren’t very smart there. I embarrassed for them.

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