Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Resilience and Sustainable Poverty Escapes in the Philippines

The Philippines has experienced a significant reduction of poverty in the past 25 years. Poverty dropped from 27 percent in 1991 to eight percent in 2015 according to the international $1.90 a day poverty line. However, despite these improvements (driven in part by good economic performance and some national development programs), the pace of poverty reduction has fallen behind other East Asian countries.

The USAID Center for Resilience commissioned the Overseas Development Institute, in conjunction with the Chronic Poverty Advisory Network (CPAN), to conduct research on resilience and poverty escapes in the Philippines and select Feed the Future focus countries. Specifically, this research examined why some households escape and remain out of poverty (sustainable poverty escape), while other households escape it only to fall back into poverty (transitory poverty escape) and still others descend into poverty for the first time (impoverishment). Building on research conducted through the Leveraging Economic Opportunity activity in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda in 2016, the current body of research was aimed at expanding understanding of the drivers of sustained and transitory poverty escapes and teasing out policy and programming implications for USAID and other development actors.

The third in the series of resulting research reports, Resilience and Sustainable Poverty Escapes in the Philippines, combines secondary analysis from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey with qualitative research approaches to further investigate the drivers of sustained and transitory poverty escapes and of impoverishment. The report investigates the resources (land, livestock and value of assets), attributes (household composition and education level) and activities (including jobs and engagement in non-farm activities) of households that enable them to build their resilience to sustainably escape poverty. Findings from this case study indicate that transitory poverty escapes and impoverishment are significant phenomenon in the Philippines.

Among other key findings, the analysis shows that social capital is instrumental in promoting escapes out of poverty, though not always a driver of sustaining the escape from poverty. Households often sustain poverty escapes through multiple income sources and maintain resilience in the face of shocks as a result of this livelihood diversification and/or successfully finding market opportunities.

Non-farm enterprises and salaried employment can be successful avenues out of poverty, with the latter preferred by some for its stable, steady income. Once households manage to sustain escapes from poverty, they engage in a virtuous cycle of “paying it forward” by assisting other families. However, households without larger family networks or social capital, often the chronically poor, remain largely excluded from the poverty reduction process.

Download the full report, as well as the accompanying policy implications brief, in the sidebar in the upper right corner.