Politics and Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: Lessons from the Philippines

ASOG Working Paper No. 16-005

21 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2016 Last revised: 7 Oct 2016

See all articles by Ronald U. Mendoza

Ronald U. Mendoza

Ateneo De Manila University - Ateneo School of Government

Rosechin Olfindo

Ateneo School of Government

Date Written: September 21, 2016

Abstract

Poverty reduction programs are known as an effective instrument to produce electoral rewards. As such, they are generally politically appealing. But not all programs are the same from the perspective of a politician — some are more supportable than others. This article identifies the features of a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program that may be less politically appealing. First, the design and implementation features of the CCT program have control and accountability mechanisms that lower the opportunities for manipulation. Second, the cash transfer by itself does not create substantial reduction in poverty incidence in the short-term. Third, the beneficiaries’ compliance with program’s conditions may reveal the gaps in the local delivery of education and health services. Fourth, the cash assistance has the potential to weaken patron-client relationship. This article argues that even a technically sound poverty reduction program may face political resistance if it has features that are not aligned with political incentives. Rather than ignoring the political factors that are at play in the implementation of the program, they should be understood in order to improve the design of programs to make them resilient or insulated from powerful vested interests.

Keywords: Philippines, Conditional Cash Transfer, Poverty, Governance, Corruption, Patronage Politics, Patron-Client Relationship, Control and Accountability Mechanism

JEL Classification: H53, I38, O15

Suggested Citation

Mendoza, Ronald U. and Olfindo, Rosechin, Politics and Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: Lessons from the Philippines (September 21, 2016). ASOG Working Paper No. 16-005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2841556

Ronald U. Mendoza (Contact Author)

Ateneo De Manila University - Ateneo School of Government ( email )

Katipunan Road
Loyola Heights
Quezon City, 1108
Philippines

Rosechin Olfindo

Ateneo School of Government ( email )

Pacifico Ortiz Hall, Fr. Arrupe Road
Social Development Complex, Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Manila 1108
Philippines

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