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Evaluating the impact of conditional cash transfer programs : lessons from Latin America

  • Rawlings, Laura B.
  • Rubio, Gloria M.
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    Unlike most development initiatives, conditional cash transfer programs recently introduced in the Latin America and the Caribbean region have been subject to rigorous evaluations of their effectiveness. These programs provide money to poor families, conditional on certain behavior, usually investments in human capital-such as sending children to school or bringing them to health centers on a regular basis. Rawlings and Rubio review the experience in evaluating the impact of these programs, exploring the application of experimental and quasi-experimental evaluation methods and summarizing results from programs launched in Brazil, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Evaluation results from the first generation of programs in Brazil, Mexico, and Nicaragua show that conditional cash transfer programs are effective in promoting human capital accumulation among poor households. There is clear evidence of success in increasing enrollment rates, improving preventive health care, and raising household consumption. Despite this promising evidence, many questions remain unanswered about the impact of conditional cash transfer programs, including those concerning their effectiveness under different country conditions and the sustainability of the welfare impacts.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3119.

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    Date of creation: 31 Aug 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3119
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    1. Hoddinott, John & Skoufias, Emmanual, 2003. "The impact of Progresa on food consumption," FCND briefs 150, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Behrman, Jere R. & Hoddinott, John, 2001. "An evaluation of the impact of PROGRESA on pre-school child height," FCND discussion papers 104, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Behrman, Jere R. & Deolalikar, Anil B., 1988. "Health and nutrition," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 631-711 Elsevier.
    5. Schultz, T. Paul, 2001. "School subsidies for the poor," FCND discussion papers 102, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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