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Economic instability may be the most pressing problem of the Filipino family today. The lack of financial resources and/or the competition for the little that is available is affecting the relationships of family members. Poverty is not new and has always been a problem for many Filipino. The years since World War II have brought great economic gains, but poverty has not been eliminated. As indicated in chapter eight, poverty is difficult either to define or to measure but there is no doubt that it affects many families and the depression years starting in 1983 were especially difficult.
Effects of Poverty on the Family
Children of the poor are severely disadvantaged in terms of health nutrition, emotional growth, and educational opportunities. At an early age, children are forced to help earn for the family and are thus exposed to objectionable and sometimes illegal and immoral influences. Many young girls marry early to escape or work as domestic’s waitresses or entertainers in bars and restaurants. Another questionable influence especially among adolescent boy is the barkada, a gang relationship where they indulge in, drinking, burglary, holdups, picking and extortion. Although there are no reliable statistics at the moment, drug addiction among the low income teenagers exists as shown by newspaper reports on crimes committed by low-income youth "high" on drugs that support their dependency on the money obtained from the muggings, burglaries and thievery.
Most wives join the labor force because of economic pressure. However, among the middle and upper classes, married women continue to work even when the family's financial needs do not demand it. Philippine society approves of women working outside the home although it does not encourage it.
Unemployment and underemployment are two factors that have affected family income and have resulted in changes in the traditional structure of the family. To solve this problem, some Filipinos have taken jobs overseas. Overseas employment grew from 14, 366 workers in 1972 to 53,894 in 1982 and to approximately 617 000 in 1984. Of this number, 24 68 percent are women. About one half of overseas workers go to the Middle East. Most are men but women accounted for most of the domestic type of services.
Since married workers comprise 73 percent of the total and they leave their families behind the remaining parent is left to bring up the family resulting in temporary single parentage. Often, the emotional strain, loneliness, and anxiety have become major problems for both the husband and the wife. While the migrant husband's great worry is jealousy caused by rumor and gossip from coworkers and relatives at home "the wife has interference and meddling from her in-laws in addition to the problem of rearing and disciplining the children. The resultant increase in income (dollar remittances) has led to value disorientation. The household standard of living rises appreciably and there is a tendency to extravagance and the purchase of consumer goods rather than investments which earn income.
The traditional concept of a well-knit family where members forego job opportunities elsewhere to remain with their families has undergone changes especially in the last decade. Nowadays, many young people seek employment overseas for a better income irrespective of the social status of the job. College graduates, school teachers, white collar workers accept assignments as domestic helpers in Hong Kong, Australia, Madrid, Singapore, Great Britain, and elsewhere. Yet in spite of these separations, the family closeness, interrelationships, and interdependency remain strong. Overseas workers remit their earnings to the family in the hope that it will improve the family social and economic status. Social scientists are studying this new pattern of behavior, but it is still too early to get a definite picture of the effect of overseas employment on family relationships.