Evaluating Conditional Schooling and Health Programs
We analyze in this chapter the development and evaluation of a new genre of social programs termed conditional cash transfer programs which have become widespread across Latin America and are now extending outside the region. Conditional transfer programs typically link monetary transfers to human capital investment, generally education, health or a combination of both. These transfer programs are considered innovative because they condition the receipt of monetary benefits on such behaviors as regular school attendance and preventive clinic visits. Effectively they are a subsidy to schooling and health, reducing the shadow price of human capital acquisition. We focus here primarily on a case study of Progresa (the Education, Health and Nutrition Program), a Mexican anti-poverty program which has served as a model for the implementation of conditional programs in other countries, and on which most evidence exists on impacts. We also review results from the newer conditional cash transfer programs. The chapter thus analyzes what we know about the success of conditional cash transfer programs as a mechanism for reducing poverty and identifies what research which is still needed in order for broader conclusions to be drawn.
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