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Do Cash Transfers Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Vital Statistics, Program and Social Security Data

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  • Amarante, Verónica
  • Manacorda, Marco
  • Miguel, Edward
  • Vigorito, Andrea

Abstract

There is limited empirical evidence on whether cash social assistance to poor pregnant women improves children’s birth outcomes. Using program administrative micro-data matched to longitudinal vital statistics on the universe of births in Uruguay, we estimate that participation in a generous cash transfer program led to a sizeable 15 to 17% reduction in the incidence of low birth weight. Improvements in mother nutrition and a fall in labor supply, out-of-wedlock births and mother’s smoking all appear to contribute to this effect. Effects are not driven by changes in fertility. We conclude that, by improving child health, cash transfers may help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Suggested Citation

  • Amarante, Verónica & Manacorda, Marco & Miguel, Edward & Vigorito, Andrea, 2012. "Do Cash Transfers Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from Matched Vital Statistics, Program and Social Security Data," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt565889qz, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt565889qz
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Medicine and Health Sciences; Social and Behavioral Sciences; public policy; fertility; child care; family planning; children; youth; cash transfers; reproductive health; government policy; welfare programs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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