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Understanding Social Classes in the Philippines

Last updated: April 12, 2024
Written by: Alyssa Divina

Key takeaways:

  • Social classes in the Philippines are primarily based on income levels rather than bloodlines or ancestry
  • Income inequality is high, with the top 1% of earners capturing 17% of national income
  • The low-income class constitutes a significant majority of the population
  • The government focuses on helping the poor and implementing social programs to alleviate poverty, improve access to education and healthcare.
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social classes in the philippines today

Technically speaking, there are no more social classes in the Philippines. Social segregation was abolished when the Americans took over the country after the Spanish-American war. Today, the term “social class” refers to the income bracket of a family.

In the world of finance, it is important to understand these social classes. The same thing goes for business. Suppose you know that data about this statistical stratification, you can do your business better. In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to know about social status in the philippines.

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What is the Meaning of Social Class

Social class means a status or position in society. In the past, there were slaves, there were mestizos, and there were royal bloods. Today, these things do not exist in the Philippines anymore.

In the past, social class had an impact on your future. If you were born an aliping sagiguilid (slave), you would not become a warrior. The same principle was widely used throughout the history of the world. As such, if you were born into a specific social class, that class determines your future.

Social Classes in the Philippines Today

Social classification in the philippines today have nothing to do with the bloodline. Instead, the social classes are based on the income level of a family. Because of this, anyone can rise or fall in any of these financial brackets.

According to the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) (1) , it is revealed that a significant majority of Filipinos, accounting for 58.4% of the population, belong to the low-income class. The middle class, on the other hand, constitutes approximately 40% of the population. The high-income class comprises a mere 1.4% of the total population.

According The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)(2), there are 3 main types or stratification of social hierarchy in the philippines based on income:

  • Low-income class
  • Middle-income class
  • High-income class

The Low-Income Class: Striving for Economic Stability

The low-income class constitutes a substantial portion of the Philippine population, facing economic challenges and limited access to resources. This class includes individuals and families with modest incomes, often living below the poverty line. Limited educational opportunities, limited access to healthcare, and a lack of secure employment are common issues faced by the low-income class. Government social programs and interventions aim to alleviate poverty and improve the living conditions of this segment.

The Middle-Income Class: Aspirations for Progress

The middle-income class represents a growing sector of the Philippine society. Individuals in this class generally have more stable incomes, better educational opportunities, and access to essential services. They are engaged in a diverse range of occupations, including professionals, entrepreneurs, and skilled workers. The middle-income class aspires for upward mobility, seeking to improve their socioeconomic status and provide better opportunities for their families.

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The High-Income Class: Influence and Prestige

The high-income class comprises the wealthiest individuals in the country. They enjoy significant economic privileges, access to exclusive education, and luxurious lifestyles. The high-income class includes influential business tycoons, prominent politicians, and other elite members of society. Their wealth and social connections often afford them considerable influence and prestige.

Later, we will show you a table of what the differences are among these classes. Surely, you do have work, and if you add up the income of your household, you will know which social class you belong to.

There are also “unwritten” social classes based on educational attainment and political power or influence. It is apparent that highly educated people seem to get more respect than those who did not finish college. They get more respect and are classified as “better” or “higher level” citizens.

social status in the philippines

What are the 5 Social Classes in the Philippines

There are more than five socioeconomic status Philippines. These divisions are important to the government so that it can take proper action in its legislation and projects.

Somewhere in these three main calsses are some more types, which is a cross between the upper and lower brackets. So, we can generally say that the social classes in the Philippines are:

  • Rich
  • High income (but not rich)
  • Upper middle income
  • Middle class
  • Lower middle class
  • Low income (but not poor)
  • Poor

The Philippine Institute for Development Studiesi dentified social classes according to the following income brackets:

Rich ₱ 219,140 and above monthly income
High income (but not rich) ₱131,483 to ₱219,140 monthly income
Upper middle income ₱76,669 to ₱131,484 monthly imcome
Middle class ₱43,828 to ₱76,66 monthly income
Lower middle class ₱21,914 to ₱43,828 monthly income
Low income (but not poor) ₱10,957 to ₱21,914 monthly income
Poor Below ₱10,957 monthly income

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What is the Social System in the Philippines

The social system in the Philippines is primarily based on a hierarchical structure influenced by historical factors and cultural traditions. The society is often described as stratified, with distinct social classes or strata.

The upper class consists of the wealthy elite, while the middle class represents professionals, businessmen, and educated individuals. The lower class encompasses the majority of the population, including low-income earners, farmers, and informal workers.

Social mobility between classes can be challenging, and social status is often influenced by factors such as wealth, education, occupation, and family background. Additionally, the Philippines is known for its close-knit family and community ties, which play a significant role in social interactions and support systems.

Who Exactly is the Middle Class

The middle class is the family that earns between ₱36,400 to ₱63,700. Most of these are employees of corporations that have international clients. People in the middle-income class depend on their jobs. Without foreign jobs, they will not be able to support themselves at this level.

Another type of middle-income family is the OFW. The OFW can earn that much and support a family in the Philippines. In the Philippines, a babysitter earns around ₱6,000 a month. If this same babysitter goes to the United States and works there, she can earn up to $10 per hour.

For eight hours of work per day, 20 days a month, this babysitter can earn $1,600. Converted to Philippine currency at ₱55 today per dollar, this translates to ₱88,000 per month. As you can see, this puts this person in the upper middle-class income bracket of the socioeconomic classes in the Philippines.

Which Social Class Must the Government Help

The social class that the government must help is the poor person. Most poor families spend more than 50% of their income on food, which is a basic necessity. The poor person cannot afford high-level education. As such, they get stuck being poor.

Now, if a poor child grows old without proper education, how can he find a job that pays well? Since he cannot find an office job, he has to make do with blue-collar work. In the Philippines, blue-collar work pays really small. To some degree, they only get the minimum income. Such is the effect of the economic classes in the Philippines to the lives of people.

The minimum income per day in the Philippines is about ₱500. Multiply that by 22 days, and you get ₱11,000. This puts the family in the low-income bracket but not the poor. However, if you think about it, it is the same thing.

The cost of a typical apartment in the Philippines now is ₱8,000 per month. If only the husband works, there is no way they can afford to pay that at a salary of ₱11,000 per month. They would have to live with their other family members.

Now, if both husband and wife earn the same, they make ₱22,000 per month. It puts them in the lower middle-class income category. However, they will not be able to afford to pay for the private school education of their children.

social stratification in the philippines

Social Class Philippines: Why the Poor Need More Help

Poverty is an unjust condition. People who were born poor did not want to be poor. They were born like that. If there are more poor people in society than middle-income ones, it only means that society has failed them.

The impoverished population in the Philippines requires increased assistance for the following reasons:

  • Poverty perpetuates a cycle of deprivation and marginalization, hindering upward mobility and limiting opportunities for a better life.
  • Reducing poverty promotes social cohesion, stability, and overall societal development.
  • Assisting the poor aligns with principles of social justice and human rights, ensuring equal opportunities for all.

In the Philippines, addressing the needs of the low-income class is a pressing concern due to their economic challenges and limited access to resources. Recognizing the importance of uplifting this segment of society, the government has implemented various initiatives and social programs to provide assistance and support to those in need.

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Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program

One of the government’s key initiatives is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT)(3) program, also known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). This program aims to alleviate poverty and improve the living conditions of low-income families. Under the CCT program, eligible families receive regular cash grants on the condition that they meet specific requirements, such as sending their children to school and availing necessary healthcare services. This program not only provides immediate financial assistance but also promotes education and healthcare utilization among the poor.

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Universal Healthcare Coverage

Recognizing that access to quality healthcare is vital for all citizens, the Philippine government has also made significant strides in expanding healthcare coverage. The Universal Health Care (UHC) Act(4) ensures that every Filipino, regardless of their social class, has access to essential healthcare services. Through the UHC program, low-income individuals and families receive financial risk protection, ensuring that medical expenses do not become a burden. This initiative aims to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes for the underprivileged.

Housing Programs

Recognizing the need for adequate housing among the low-income class, the government has launched various housing programs(5). These programs provide affordable housing options, such as socialized housing projects and housing loans with low-interest rates. The goal is to provide safe and decent housing for low-income families, ensuring their access to a fundamental human right.

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Which Social Class Are You

Wondering what social class you’re in? Which social structure in the Philippines are you?

Determining one’s social class can be a complex task influenced by various factors such as income, education, occupation, and lifestyle. While it’s not possible to definitively classify individuals into specific social classes without a comprehensive assessment, you can gain some insights by considering the following:

  1. Economic Status: Assess your income level, wealth, and financial stability. Consider your access to resources and the extent to which you rely on them for your lifestyle.
  2. Education and Occupation: Reflect on your educational attainment and the nature of your occupation. Higher levels of education and professional careers often correlate with a higher social class.
  3. Lifestyle and Consumption Patterns: Consider your lifestyle choices, spending habits, and the types of goods and services you typically consume. These factors can indicate your social class positioning.
  4. Social Networks: Evaluate the social circles you belong to and the connections you have. Interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds can provide insights into your social class dynamics.
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Summary: Different Social Classes in the Philippines

The term “social class” has changed over the years. It now has nothing to do with the bloodline but rather with the family’s income. Anyone in any social class can go up and down depending on their financial status. It only means that if you are poor today, you can e one day be a rich person.


  • What are the Social and Class inequalities Philippines?
    The Philippines experiences high levels of income inequality. The top 1 percent of earners in the country account for a significant share (17 percent) of the national income, while the bottom 50 percent only share a smaller portion (14 percent).
  • What are the Social Status issues in the Philippines?
    • Income inequality: High levels of income disparity create significant social gaps between the rich and the poor.
    • Poverty: A considerable portion of the population lives below the poverty line, struggling with inadequate access to basic necessities.
    • Lack of social mobility: Limited opportunities for upward mobility contribute to the perpetuation of social inequalities.
    • Informal labor sector: A significant portion of the population works in the informal sector, facing job insecurity and low wages.
    • Educational disparities: Unequal access to quality education is a persistent issue.
    • Gender inequality: Gender disparities persist, particularly in terms of access to education and employment opportunities.
    • Discrimination and marginalization: Certain marginalized groups face discrimination and exclusion.
  • What are the Social Classes in Philippine History?
    • Datu – these are the ruling class like the king equivalent of other nations. These are the chieftains and their families.
    • Maginoo – these families are noble people with properties, similar to the dukes and counts of Europe in the past. People in the noble class can ascend to the Datu level.
    • Maharlika – these are warriors. People who belonged to this class had special privileges.
    • Timawa – these are the equivalent of free people who have allegiance to the king. They are not forced to serve the king or datu, and they can do business and live their lives freely.
    • Alipin – these were slaves and were dependent on their masters. The first type was the aliping namamahay or the serfs. These are people who served their lords. The second class was the aliping saguiguilid, or the slaves who had masters. As a slave, the children will automatically become slaves.
Disclaimer and Editor’s note


Alyssa Divina
Author pages:
Alyssa Divina pens blog articles about a wide range of topics, such as money matters and government transactions in the Philippines. Prior to joining Digido Finance Corp., she served as a journalist for Charlton Media Group, a business news magazine, for two years. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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