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Do Cash Transfers Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Vital Statistics, Program, and Social Security Data

Author

Listed:
  • Verónica Amarante
  • Marco Manacorda
  • Edward Miguel
  • Andrea Vigorito

Abstract

There is limited empirical evidence on whether cash transfers to poor pregnant women improve children's birth outcomes and potentially help weaken the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Using a unique array of program and social security administrative micro- data matched to longitudinal vital statistics in Uruguay, we estimate that participation in a generous social assistance program led to a sizable reduction in the incidence of low birthweight. The effect is due to faster intrauterine growth rather than longer gestational length. Our findings are consistent with improved maternal nutrition during pregnancy being a key driver of improved birthweight. (JEL I14, I32, I38, J13, J16, O15)

Suggested Citation

  • Verónica Amarante & Marco Manacorda & Edward Miguel & Andrea Vigorito, 2016. "Do Cash Transfers Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Vital Statistics, Program, and Social Security Data," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 1-43, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:8:y:2016:i:2:p:1-43
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20140344
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sarah Baird & Craig McIntosh & Berk Özler, 2011. "Cash or Condition? Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1709-1753.
    2. Douglas Almond & Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2011. "Inside the War on Poverty: The Impact of Food Stamps on Birth Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 387-403, May.
    3. Alan I. Barreca, 2010. "The Long-Term Economic Impact of In Utero and Postnatal Exposure to Malaria," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 865-892.
    4. Hilary Hoynes & Doug Miller & David Simon, 2015. "Income, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Infant Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 172-211, February.
    5. Card, David & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1988. "Measuring the Effect of Subsidized Training Programs on Movements in and out of Employment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(3), pages 497-530, May.
    6. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Currie, Janet & Cole, Nancy, 1993. "Welfare and Child Health: The Link between AFDC Participation and Birth Weight," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 971-985, September.
    8. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
    9. Anna Aizer, 2011. "Poverty, Violence, and Health: The Impact of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy on Newborn Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 518-538.
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    11. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2009. "Early Life Health and Cognitive Function in Old Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 104-109, May.
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    14. Marianne P. Bitler & Janet Currie, 2005. "Does WIC work? The effects of WIC on pregnancy and birth outcomes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 73-91.
    15. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Douglas Almond & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Health Capital and the Prenatal Environment: The Effect of Ramadan Observance during Pregnancy," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 56-85, October.
    17. Adriana Camacho, 2008. "Stress and Birth Weight: Evidence from Terrorist Attacks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 511-515, May.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 23rd May 2016
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2016-05-23 16:00:04

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Santiago Garganta & Leonardo Gasparini & Mariana Marchionni & Mariano Tappatá, 2017. "The Effect of Cash Transfers on Fertility: Evidence from Argentina," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 36(1), pages 1-24, February.
    2. Lina Cardona-Sosa & Carlos Medina, 2016. "The Effects of In utero Programs on Birth Outcomes: The Case of “Buen Comienzo” *** El Efecto de Programas dirigidos a Madres Gestantes en Indicadores al Nacer: El caso de “Buen Comienzo”," Borradores de Economia 955, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Amarante, Véronica & Ferrando, Mery & Vigorito, Andrea, 2011. "School Attendance, Child Labor and Cash Transfer: An impact evaluation of PANES," PEP Policy Briefs 164618, Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP).
    4. Pascaline Dupas & Edward Miguel, 2016. "Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries," NBER Working Papers 22235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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