Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was born on 5 April 1947 to the late President Diosdado Macapagal from Lubao in the province of Pampanga, and Dr. Evangelina Macaraeg-Macapagal of Binalonan, Pangasinan. Both parents were well known for their integrity and simple but dignified lifestyle. During her father's presidency, the Philippines was second only to Japan in economic progress in Asia.
Arroyo graduated as valedictorian of her high school class in Assumption Convent. She made the Dean's List often during her two years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where former President Bill Clinton was her college classmate. She graduated magna cum laude from Assumption College with a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce. She later earned a Master of Arts degree in economics from the Ateneo de Manila University, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of the Philippines (UP). She began her professional career as a teacher at Assumption College. She later became assistant professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, and senior lecturer at the UP School of Economics.
President Macapagal-Arroyo is married to lawyer-businessman Jose Miguel Tuason Arroyo of Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, the grandson of the late Senator Jose Maria Arroyo of Iloilo. They have three children, Mikey, Luli, and Dato.