Financial incentives for maternal health: Impact of a national programme in Nepal
Financial incentives are increasingly being advocated as an effective means to influence health-related behaviours. There is, however, limited evidence on whether they work in low-income countries, particularly when implemented at scale. This paper explores the impact of a national programme in Nepal that provides cash incentives to women conditional on them giving birth in a health facility. Using propensity score matching methods, we find that the programme had a positive, albeit modest, effect on the utilisation of maternity services. Women who had heard of the SDIP before childbirth were 4.2 percentage points (17 percent) more likely to deliver with a skilled attendant. The treatment effect is positively associated with the size of the financial package offered by the programme and the quality of care in facilities. Despite the positive effect on those exposed to the SDIP, low coverage of the programme suggests that few women actually benefited in the first few years.
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