Children in low-income families also deemed at greater risk of being left behind
The most vulnerable sectors like the poor, women and school children will take longer to recover from the pandemic-induced slump even as the Philippine economy as a whole was already on the mend, the World Bank (WB) said.
“Toward the end of 2020 and into 2021, the economy in Indonesia and the Philippines started to recover, yet mobility remained well below prepandemic levels and below the levels of most other countries in the East Asia and Pacific region … Evidence suggests that recovery may have been slower for poorer workers in the Philippines and Indonesia,” World Bank economists Lydia Kim, Maria Ana Lugo, Andrew Mason and Ikuko Uochi said in their Nov. 22 report titled “Inequality under COVID-19: Taking Stock of High-Frequency Data for East Asia and the Pacific.”
“In the Philippines, workers in the top 60 percent of [survey respondents] were more likely to return to work than those in the poorest 20 percent between August and December 2020,” the World Bank said.
The World Bank based its findings on the data collected from phone and web surveys it conducted in the Philippines in August and December last year plus the latest survey in May this year.
In both the Philippines and Indonesia, “wealthier workers were less likely to face reductions in labor income compared to poorer ones after the initial impact of the pandemic,” the World Bank added.
Also, the World Bank said that in these two countries, “women were less likely than men to return to work at times of economic reopening, even conditional on sector of employment.” Across the East Asia and Pacific region, “in the longer-term, it is possible that women may face greater difficulty recovering from the pandemic” as they took care of children during school closures and had worked in the worst-hit economic sectors like manufacturing, retail and tourism.
As for education, the World Bank said that across the region, “children in poorer households were at greater risk of being left behind … In the Philippines, for instance, students from the richest quintiles (38 percent) were twice as likely to engage in more interactive educational activities than those at the bottom quintile (16 percent).”
The World Bank noted that at the onset of the pandemic in March to April 2020, “some countries, like the Philippines and Indonesia, experienced more prolonged reductions in mobility with little recovery over time.”
As lockdowns gradually eased, survey respondents in the Philippines who stopped working also slowly declined from 31 percent during the August 2020 survey to 24 percent in December 2020, and 21 percent by May 2021, World Bank data showed.
The share of Filipino households who experienced a reduction in labor income, meanwhile, fluctuated from 75 percent in August 2020 to 57 percent in December 2020 and then again rose to 63 percent in May 2021.
In the same way, the share of households, which sold assets or borrowed more money to cope with the harder times wrought by COVID-19 fluctuated—from 83 percent in August last year, down to 76 percent last December, before climbing to 90 percent last May.
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