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The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Marriage and Divorce

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  • Gustavo J. Bobonis

Abstract

A growing number of less-developed countries have introduced conditional cash transfer programs in which funds are targeted to women. Economic models of the family suggest that these transfer programs may lead to marital turnover among program beneficiaries. Data from the experimental evaluation of the PROGRESA program in Mexico is used to provide new evidence on the short-run impacts of targeted transfers on couples' union dissolution and individuals' new union formation decisions. We find that, although the overall share of women in union does not change as a result of the program, marital turnover increases. Intact families eligible for the transfers experienced a modest (0.32 percentage points) increase in separation rates, with most of the effect concentrated among young and relatively educated women households. In contrast, young single women with low educational attainment levels experienced a substantial increase in new union formation rates. The marital transition patterns are consistent with the workhorse economic model of the marriage market--individuals with the greatest prospects to start new unions and those who may become more attractive in the marriage market are more likely to transition out of existing relationships and form new ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Gustavo J. Bobonis, 2011. "The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Marriage and Divorce," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 281-312.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/657123
    DOI: 10.1086/657123
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    Cited by:

    1. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Roberto Castro & Juan S. Morales, 2015. "Conditional Cash Transfers for Women and Spousal Violence: Evidence of the Long-Term Relationship from the Oportunidades Program in Rural Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 91600, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Bergolo, Marcelo & Galván, Estefanía, 2018. "Intra-household Behavioral Responses to Cash Transfer Programs. Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 100-118.
    3. de Brauw, Alan & Peterman, Amber, 2011. "Can conditional cash transfers improve maternal health and birth outcomes?: Evidence from El Salvador's Comunidades Solidarias Rurales," IFPRI discussion papers 1080, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Anderson, Siwan & Genicot, Garance, 2015. "Suicide and property rights in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 64-78.
    5. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Melissa González-Brenes & Roberto Castro, 2013. "Public Transfers and Domestic Violence: The Roles of Private Information and Spousal Control," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 179-205, February.
    6. Litwin, Ashley & Perova, Elizaveta & Reynolds, Sarah Anne, 2019. "A conditional cash transfer and Women's empowerment: Does Bolsa Familia Influence intimate partner violence?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 238(C), pages 1-1.
    7. Cecilia Parada, 2018. "Income cash transfers and intrahousehold decision making," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 18-17, Instituto de Economia - IECON.
    8. Okeke, Edward N. & Abubakar, Isa S., 2020. "Healthcare at the beginning of life and child survival: Evidence from a cash transfer experiment in Nigeria," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    9. Fitzsimons, Emla & Mesnard, Alice, 2013. "Can conditional cash transfers compensate for a father's absence ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6476, The World Bank.
    10. John Hoddinott & Tseday J. Mekasha, 2020. "Social Protection, Household Size, and Its Determinants: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(10), pages 1818-1837, October.
    11. Independent Evaluation Group, 2014. "Social Safety Nets and Gender : Learning from Impact Evaluations and World Bank Projects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 21365, November.
    12. Balmori de la Miyar, Jose Roberto, 2018. "The effect of conditional cash transfers on reporting violence against women to the police in Mexico," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 73-91.
    13. World Bank, . "Work and Family : Latin American and Caribbean Women in Search of a New Balance [Trabajo & familia : mujeres de América Latina y el Caribe en busca de un nuevo equilibrio - Resumen ejecuivo (Vol. 2," World Bank Other Operational Studies, The World Bank, number 12489.
    14. Bobonis, Gustavo J. & Castro, Roberto & Morales, Juan S., 2018. "Conditional Cash Transfers for Women and Spousal Violence: Evidence of the Long-Term Relationship from the Oportunidades Program in Rural Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7267, Inter-American Development Bank.
    15. Laszlo, Sonia & Grantham, Kate & Oskay, Ecem & Zhang, Tingting, 2020. "Grappling with the challenges of measuring women's economic empowerment in intrahousehold settings," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 132(C).

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    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs

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