The Impact of PROGRESA on Food Consumption
In this article we used data from the Mexican poverty alleviation program called PROGRESA (Programa de Educacion, Salud y Alimentacion) to examine whether eligibility for a cash transfer provided by the program conditional on children's regular school attendance and regular visits to health centers is also associated with increased consumption of food. We used a longitudinal sample of approximately 24,000 households from 506 communities. A distinguishing characteristic of this sample was that some of the communities were randomly selected for participation in PROGRESA, while the rest were introduced into the program at later phases. Exploiting this feature in our analysis, we found that eligible households in the villages covered by PROGRESA increased caloric acquisition compared with eligible households not receiving these benefits. By November 1999, median beneficiary households in treatment localities obtained 6.4% more calories than did comparable households in control localities. Perhaps even more significant, we found that the impact was greatest on dietary quality as measured by the acquisition of calories from vegetable and animal products--a finding consistent with the view of respondents themselves that PROGRESA was enabling them to "eat better."
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