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.
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.
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.
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.
This third-round report presents short-term output and longer-term impact findings of a nationwide, government-run, community-driven development (CDD) project in the Philippines: Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (“Linking Arms Against Poverty”)—Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS or KC). These impact findings were generated from a randomized control trial implemented by IPA using data collected between 2011 and 2015. The report focuses on the effects of KC in barangays (villages) across the Philippines’ three main island groupings—Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas—after approximately three cycles of CDD programming. The findings are presented in three main outcome streams or domains: socioeconomic conditions, governance, and community empowerment. The principal goal of this report is to serve as an independent assessment of the impact of KC generally, and specifically of the returns to the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) investment in KC. Simultaneously, the report aims to offer lessons to improve CDD-related policy in the Philippines and beyond, and to contribute to broader research about the impacts of CDD programs.
To test the causal impact of religiosity, we conducted a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program that consisted of 15 weekly half-hour sessions. We analyze outcomes for 6,276 ultra-poor Filipino households six months after the program ended. We find significant increases in religiosity and income, no significant changes in total labor supply, assets, consumption, food security, or life satisfaction, and a significant decrease in perceived relative economic status. Exploratory analysis suggests the program may have improved hygienic practices and increased household discord, and that the income treatment effect may operate through increasing grit.
A debt trap occurs when someone takes on a high-interest rate loan and is barely able to pay back the interest, and thus perpetually finds themselves in debt (often by re-financing). Studying such practices is important for understanding financial decision-making of households in dire circumstances, and also for setting appropriate consumer protection policies. We conduct a simple experiment in three sites in which we paid off high-interest moneylender debt of individuals. Most borrowers returned to debt within six weeks. One to two years after intervention, treatment individuals were borrowing at the same rate as control households.