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Amidst the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging economic recovery, cash transfers can provide timely lifelines and economic assistance to households in need. The Philippines government rapidly moved to institute a number of emergency assistance programs when the pandemic struck, including the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) launched in early April 2020. These programs have been able to help cushion Filipinos from immediate economic fallouts from lockdowns and slowed commercial activity.

Understanding how Filipinos have fared over the past few months, and what challenges they continue to face, is critical for the government’s design and delivery of social assistance programs moving forward. IPA partnered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to develop questions focused on employment and economic activity to help guide decisions and shape social assistance policies with data. The RECOVR survey, conducted from June 18-July 1, reached 1,389 respondents. This brief summarizes survey findings on the scale and extent of economic vulnerability in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic and makes recommendations for cash transfers and social assistance program design.

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Brief
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November 16, 2020
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To support government partners’ initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IPA launched the Research for Effective COVID-19 Responses (RECOVR) Survey, a rapid response panel survey it has conducted in nine countries including the Philippines. The RECOVR survey aims to directly inform key government partners on the health, economic, educational, and social ramifications of the pandemic.

This brief summarizes and presents key education results from the RECOVR Philippines Survey (implemented June 18-July 1, 2020 that reached 1,389 respondents) to provide decision-makers of the Department of Education with rigorous evidence in support of the implementation of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) and policy recommendations based on the results. Key policy questions to consider are: 1) how can policymakers ensure that children do not fall behind in their education, and 2) how can policymakers help students be engaged in distance learning?

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Brief
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November 16, 2020
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This presentation summarizes findings related to the impact of COVID-19 on food security and hunger, based on Round 1 of the RECOVR Survey. Countries surveyed: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines.

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Report
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November 03, 2020
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In collaboration with the Supreme Court of the Philippines and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Philippines is conducting a series of studies on the effect of judicial reforms on the efficiency of the lower trial courts. The three reforms under evaluation aim to reduce court case congestion through speedy and timely delivery of justice. Using quasi-experimental methods in each study, this research uses court and case level administrative data from court databases and from paper records, which have been digitized by the team, to measure court efficiency. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global and Philippine government guidelines, IPA Philippines adjusted the qualitative research approach in order to mitigate the impact on the ongoing research and engagement with the Supreme Court. In compliance with strict quarantine measures and restrictions on travel and in-person meetings, we used video calling technology to continue with qualitative data collection. The team also shifted from focus group discussions to single and dyad interviews. The following is a detailed summary of our transition to video calling data collection and lessons learned from this experience. Our findings can help guide future studies using remote data collection and video interviewing.

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Phone Survey Methods Resource
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September 10, 2020
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Around the world, 152 million children are engaged in child labor. Because poverty is thought to be the root cause of child labor, policymakers have aimed to reduce child labor by improving the economic welfare of poor households where children are engaged in child labor. In the Philippines, researchers partnered with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct a randomized evaluation of the impact of a program that provided a one-time productive asset transfer of PHP 10,000 (equivalent to US$518) on economic well-being and child labor outcomes.

Key Findings 

Approximately 15 months after the program started:

  • The assets increased household business activity, both fostering new activities and helping older business activities persist.
  • The program increased food security and improved some measures of child welfare, including children’s life satisfaction.
  • The program had a positive rate of return on family-firm generated income.
  • However, the program also led to an increase in child employment for children who had not worked before.
  • The increase in child employment appears to be driven by the increase in work opportunities brought on by the family businesses.
  • The results support productive asset livelihoods promotion as a poverty alleviation strategy in poor families with child labor present, but cast doubt on the approach as a way to eradicate child labor, at least in this context.
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Brief
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January 07, 2019
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Commitment products can remedy self-control problems. However, imperfect knowledge about their preferences may (discontinuously) lead individuals to select into incentive-incompatible commitments, which reduce their welfare. I conduct a field experiment where low-income individuals were randomly offered a new installment-savings commitment account. Individuals chose a personalized savings plan and a default penalty themselves. A majority appears to choose a harmful contract: While the average effect on bank savings is large, 55 percent of clients default, and incur monetary losses. A possible explanation is that the chosen penalties were too low (the commitment was too weak) to overcome clients’ self-control problems. Measures of sophisticated hyperbolic discounting correlate negatively with take-up and default, and positively with penalty choices – consistent with theoretical predictions that partial sophisticates adopt weak commitments and then default, while full sophisticates are more cautious about committing, but better able to choose incentive-compatible contracts.

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Published Paper
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October 01, 2018

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