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

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  • 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)

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  • 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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    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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