Boosting Human Capital in the Philippines through Conditional Cash Transfers

This delivery note focuses on a conditional cash transfer program in the Philippines. Called the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which roughly translates into “building bridges for Filipino families” the initiative, first implemented in 2007, was designed to assist the poor by directly providing them with money. Unlike conventional social assistance programs, however, the beneficiaries received the grants only if they fulfilled certain conditions. Those conditions include enrolling their children in school and ensuring that they maintain attendance rates of at least 85 percent, taking their children on regular clinic visits for basic health services (such as immunization and growth monitoring), and regularly attending sessions where the beneficiaries learned about topics such as family planning, good citizenship, and financial literacy. The cash transfers were made directly to households, after which they could spend the money as they saw fit. Eligible households received between 500 pesos and 1,400 pesos (US$11 – US$32) per month, depending on the number of eligible children in the household. The objective was not only to ease financial hardship but also to enable and motivate Filipino families to raise the educational and health status of their children.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps, utilized the “whole of government” approach that, according to the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, can overcome challenges countries face in developing their human capital. The three elements of this approach are: continuity (sustaining effort across political cycles), coordination (ensuring that sectoral programs and agencies work together), and evidence (expanding and using the evidence base to improve and update human capital strategies). This delivery note examines how the Philippine government drew on these elements and focused on building a robust evidence base in order to design, implement, and expand the program.