Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

How income segmentation affects income mobility: evidence from panel data in the Philippines

By Mark Western, Mark Western, Michele Haynes and Wojtek Tomaszewski

Despite vibrant economic growth, the Philippines confronts persistently high income inequality. Using household-level panel data collected for the years 2003, 2006 and 2009, we investigate how income segmentation affects Filipinos’ income mobility prospects. The results of the multinomial logistic models suggest that if households are grouped according to initial income (in 2003), richer households had the lowest propensity to experience slow to moderate income changes and were most likely to experience consistently downward mobility from 2003 to 2009, while initially poorer households had the highest propensity to experience consistently upward mobility. On the other hand, if households are grouped according to permanent income, we still find that lower income households experienced (slightly) better income mobility outcomes; however, their edge over higher income households was much smaller than when initial income was used. This result could indicate that convergence on the basis of initial income may be in part random variation. The findings are robust to heuristic and model-based methods of grouping households into different income segments.

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