On Getting to Know the Filipino Informal Settler

data statistics politics commentary economics dataviz

How well do you know the Filipino informal settler? Is he poor and underprivileged? What happens if you force him to pay rent? Well, short of actually starting a conversation with one, we can get to know the Filipino informal settler through data. Read on to find out more.

TJ Palanca https://www.twitter.com/tjpalanca
02-02-2014
TRESPASSERS OR VICTIMS? - There is a debate as to whether informal settlers form a threat to urban development, or whether they should be relocated. In this photo is an informal settlement along the Philippine National Railways. (Photo: <a href='http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Philippine_National_Railways_Manila_squatter.jpg' target='_blank'>Kounosu/Wikimedia</a>, <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en' target='_blank'>CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)

Figure 1: TRESPASSERS OR VICTIMS? - There is a debate as to whether informal settlers form a threat to urban development, or whether they should be relocated. In this photo is an informal settlement along the Philippine National Railways. (Photo: Kounosu/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

An informal settlement along Agham Road in North Triangle, Quezon City has been torn down by the government, causing much drama as the residents fought back to save their dwellings. The incident has yet again sparked discussion on whether squatting is borne out of circumstance or sloth, and on which method of removing informal settlers works best.

I think, when dealing with complex socio-economic issues such as squatting, it pays to know the people who are in the situation. Fortunately, the Family Income and Expenditure Survey 2009 has data on informal settlers, and we can use it to paint a social, economic, and psychological picture of their surroundings and circumstances.

How prevalent is squatting?

If we generalize the results of this survey, which included 38,400 households and 1,239 informal settlers, to the entire population, roughly 3.23% of households in the Philippines are living rent-free in houses and/or lots that do not belong to them, without the consent of their owners.

For the purposes of this post, we define informal settlers as any household that lives rent-free on a lot with a pre-existing or self-constructed house without the owner’s consent.

Are informal settlers really poor and underprivileged?

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s first go into some preliminary statistics: how do they measure up, relative to the entire population in terms of income and household size?