Technical Notes on the Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF)

Release Date: 

Saturday, January 8, 2005


The Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) is a nationwide survey that seeks to gather information on Filipino citizens including overseas workers who left abroad during the last five years. Data on their remittances as well as data for most part of this bulletin are gathered using the past six months reference period. The SOF is a rider survey to the October round of the Labor Force Survey every year.
Data collection of the characteristics of overseas workers started in 1982 using a one-page rider questionnaire in the Integrated Survey of Households (ISH) and continued until 1986. In 1987, during the revision of the ISH Form 2 or the Labor Force Survey (LFS) questionnaire, a column indicator for overseas contract workers (OCWs) was added to get the estimate of the number of OCWs. With the increasing demand for information on overseas workers, the Survey on Overseas Workers (SOW) was resumed in 1991 revising the previous questionnaire to generate more comprehensive data.
Data on international migration was gathered in the 1988 National Demographic Survey (NDS). With the expanded coverage of the 1993 NDS on health and immunization, the section of international migration was deleted from the NDS but recommended for inclusion in SOW starting 1992. Hence, the SOW is now renamed to SOF.
The SOF aims to provide data on overseas Filipinos particularly the overseas contract workers and their contribution to the economy. Specifically, the survey has the following objectives:
to obtain national estimates on the number of overseas Filipinos including overseas workers and their socio-economic characteristics; and
to provide estimates on the amount of cash and in kind transfers received by the families and the mode of remittance.
For purposes of the survey, only those family members who traveled outside the Philippines within the last five-year reference period (e.g., if with reference to the1998 SOF - from October 1993 to September 1998 and to the 1999 SOF- October 1994 to September 1999) for any reasons are included.
Commonwealth Act No. 591 (an act to Create a Bureau of the Census and Statistics to Consolidate Statistical Activities of the Government Therein) which empowers the Bureau to conduct by enumeration, sampling or other methods for statistical purposes, studies of social and economic problems of the country
Presidential Decree No. 418 - reconstituting the Bureau of the Census and Statistics as a new agency under the administrative supervision of the National Economic and Development Authority to be known as the National Census and Statistics Office
Executive Order No. 121 (otherwise known as Reorganization Act of the Philippine Statistical System) - renaming the National Statistics Office (NSO) which shall be the major statistical agency responsible for generating general purpose statistics and undertaking such censuses and surveys as may be designated by the National Statistical Coordination Board.
Section 4 of the Commonwealth Act No. 591 states "that the data furnished to the Bureau of the Census and Statistics will be kept strictly confidential and shall not be used as evidence in court for purposes of taxation, regulation or investigation; nor shall such data or information be divulged to any person except authorized employees of the Bureau of the Census and Statistics, acting in the performance of their duties; nor such data be published except in the form of summaries or statistical tables in which no reference to any particular individual, corporation, partnership, institution, or business enterprise shall appear"
Persons violating the provisions of the above section shall upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than six hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or by both.
Furthermore, Section 17 of Executive Order No. 121 stipulates that "subject to existing laws, rules and regulations on confidentiality of information, any individual, institution or instrumentality shall be given access to unpublished data, provided that the cost incurred is assumed by the requesting party, in accordance with existing laws, rules and regulations."
The SOF is a nationwide survey involving a probability sample of about 41,000 households. The households to be interviewed are considered representative samples of private households in all provinces of the country.
The survey aims to collect data on overseas Filipinos and their socio-economic characteristics.
The sampling design of the Survey on Overseas Filipinos (SOF) adopts that of the Integrated Survey of Household (ISH) which uses the new master sample design starting July 1996.
The multi-stage sampling design of the master sample consists of 3,416 PSUs in the expanded sample for provincial level estimates with a sub-sample of 2,247 PSUs designated as the core master sample for regional level estimates. The October 1999 Labor Force Survey was based on the core master sample.
The domain for the new master sample is similar to that of the previous ISH design with an addition of 23 newly created domains. The urban and rural areas of cities and municipalities with a population of 150,000 or more are considered as separate domains. The other urban and rural areas in each of the 77 provinces are likewise treated as separate domains. In view of the creation of ARMM and the separation of Marawi City and Cotabato City from Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, respectively, the urban and rural areas of the two cities also form separate domains.
The frame for the first and second stages of sample selection were based mainly on the results of the 1995 POPCEN. The 1995 POPCEN list of barangays with the household and population counts is used in the first stage of sample selection. The stratification of barangays included in the frame, however, are based on the 1990 CPH and other administrative reports from the field offices of NSO.
The enumeration areas which constitute the secondary stage sampling units are those that were formed during the 1995 POPCEN.
Isolated barangays and/or barangays that are difficult and expensive to reach are excluded from the sampling frame. However, critical areas or barangays with peace and order problem which is generally temporary in nature are included in the frame.
The frame for the third stage of sample selection is the list of household from the 1995 POPCEN.
Barangays in each domain were explicitly stratified by urbanity. Within the urban/rural barangay stratum in each of the provincial domains, the barangays were implicitly stratified by municipal district, serpentine ordering of the municipalities, and grouping of the barangay, based on accessibility. The implicit stratification ensured geographic coverage.
The multi-stage sampling design of the master sample involves the selection of the sample barangays for the first stage, selection of sample enumeration areas or EAs for the second stage, and the selection of sample households for the third stage in each stratum for every domain.
The sample barangays were selected systematically with probability proportional to size from the list of barangays that were implicitly stratified. The preliminary count of households based on the results of the 1995 POPCEN was used.
The selection of sample EAs for the second stage was also done systematically with probability proportional to size. The EAs are those that were formed during the 1995 POPCEN. An EA is a physical delineated portion of the barangay. For barangays that were not divided into EAs, the barangay was treated as an EA.
The selection of sample households for the third stage was done systematically from the 1995 POPCEN List of Households.
The new master sample consists of an expanded sample of 3,416 sample barangays/EAs (2045 urban and 1371 rural) to improve the precision of provincial-level estimates from the household surveys. The October 1997 and October 1998 LFS used the expanded sample which has a national sample of about 41,000 households.
For purposes of this survey, overseas workers are the following:
Filipino overseas contract workers (OCW) who are presently and temporarily out of the country to fulfill an overseas work contract for a specific length of time or who are presently at home on vacation but still has an existing contract to work abroad. They may be landbased or seabased.
Landbased workers - these are overseas contract workers who are hired either by direct hiring of an employer abroad; or through the assistance of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA);
or through a private and licensed recruitment agency. They may have returned to the Philippines for a vacation (annual or emergency leave), or have transferred to other employers, or were rehired by their former employer.
Seabased workers - these are overseas contract workers who worked or are working in any kind of international fishing/passenger/cargo vessels. Included also are OCWs who worked or are working for a shipping company abroad.
Other Filipino workers abroad with a valid working visa or work permits. Included also are crew members of airplanes such as pilots, stewards, stewardesses, etc.
example: Filipinos working in countries such as U.S., Taiwan, Saipan, etc. with a working visa.
Filipinos abroad who are holders of other types of non-immigrant visa such as tourist/visitor, student, medical and others but are presently employed and working full time.
Persons not considered as overseas workers are:
Filipinos whose place of employment is outside the Philippines but whose employer is the Philippine government. Examples are Filipinos who worked or are working in Philippine embassies, missions and consulates abroad.
Filipinos who are sent abroad by the Philippine government or by private institutes for training, scholarship or any other similar purpose, even if they are known to be working abroad. Note that students who are sent abroad by private individual who are working or had worked there are excluded in this category.
Filipinos working in other countries who are hired as consultants/advisers of International organization such as the United Nations International Monetary Fund, etc.
Immigrants to other countries even though they are working abroad.
The data on overseas workers has the following limitations:
The overseas workers covered in this report are those who left for abroad to work during the period April 1 to September 30. Hence, these are only a portion of the totality of workers who are abroad during the period. The workers who are home on vacation from their jobs abroad who have left earlier than April 1 of the reference year are also included in said totality.
The Survey of Overseas Filipinos does not ask for the total salary received by the OFWs. Hence, the remittance presented in the results may just be part of the total salary received by the OFWs.