Targeting versus social protection in cash transfers in the Philippines: Reassessing a celebrated case of social protection

Emma Cantal, Andrew Fischer, Charmaine Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article provides a corrective to the dominant celebratory narrative about the conditional cash transfer programme in the Philippines, the Pantawid, and its associated social registry, the Listahanan. Based on extensive documentary analysis and fieldwork in the Philippines in 2017 and 2018, we argue that the targeting system has in fact been unable to function according to its primary purpose of identifying the poor and providing them social protection, despite being celebrated precisely for this purpose. This has been partly – but not only – due to the increasingly obsolescent data of the registry, which the political system has been incapable of correcting, leading to stasis at a fairly low level of coverage, at a peak of about 19 percent of national households in 2014 and since subsiding to about 17 percent by 2020, with transfer amounts at a fraction of the food poverty line. This dysfunction has resulted in a quasi-permanent group of cash payment recipients, with little or no reflection of evolving poverty profiles. This revised reading of the Pantawid and Listahanan, in what might be considered as a strong case to examine social protection performance, brings us back to the perennial problems associated with poverty targeting in even best-case social protection programmes promoted by international donors and organisations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalCritical Social Policy
Volume2021
Issue numberMay
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2021

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