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A healthier start: The effect of conditional cash transfers on neonatal and infant mortality in rural Mexico

  • Barham, Tania

Conditional cash transfer programs seek to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty by building the human capital of poor children. Despite their popularity throughout the developing world, relatively little is known about their effect on children's health outcomes. This paper evaluates the impact of the Mexican conditional cash transfer program, Progresa, on two important health outcomes: infant and neonatal mortality. It exploits the phasing-in of Progresa over time throughout rural Mexico to identify the impact of the program. The paper shows that Progresa led to a large 17% decline in rural infant mortality among the treated, but did not reduce neonatal mortality on average. The benefit-cost ratio is between 1.3 and 3.6. Tests for heterogeneity show larger declines for some groups including those municipalities whose pre-program levels of mortality were above the median, and those that prior to the program had higher illiteracy rates, and less access to electricity.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 74-85

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:94:y:2011:i:1:p:74-85
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  1. Anne Case, 2001. "Does Money Protect Health Status? Evidence from South African Pensions," Working Papers 205, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  2. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Guy Stecklov & Paul Winters & Jessica Todd & Ferdinando Regalia, 2006. "Demographic Externalities from Poverty Programs in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Latin America," Working Papers 2006-01, American University, Department of Economics.
  4. Matias D. Cattaneo & Sebastian Galiani & Paul J. Gertler & Sebastian Martinez & Rocio Titiunik, 2009. "Housing, Health, and Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 75-105, February.
  5. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old Age Pension and Intra-household Allocation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 8061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. World Bank, 2005. "World Development Indicators 2005," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 12426.
  7. Barham, Tania & Maluccio, John A., 2009. "Eradicating diseases: The effect of conditional cash transfers on vaccination coverage in rural Nicaragua," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 611-621, May.
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  10. Jere R. Behrman & John Hoddinott, 2005. "Programme Evaluation with Unobserved Heterogeneity and Selective Implementation: The Mexican "PROGRESA" Impact on Child Nutrition," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(4), pages 547-569, 08.
  11. Paul Gertler, 2004. "Do Conditional Cash Transfers Improve Child Health? Evidence from PROGRESA's Control Randomized Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 336-341, May.
  12. W. Kip Viscusi & Joseph E. Aldy, 2003. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," NBER Working Papers 9487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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