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Conditional Cash Transfers & Early Childhood Development

Financial Inclusion Mexico

Cash transfer programs are increasingly common across developing countries. Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, in particular, provide incentives for parents to invest in the human capital of their children by making the transfers conditional on certain behaviors. In 1997, the Mexican government implemented a national conditional cash transfers program called PROGRESA, later Oportunidades, which had distributed approximately US$4.5 billion to 5.8 million beneficiary households by 2010. 10 years after the program began, this study evaluates the long-run impact of Oportunidades on child health and development by examining variations between those with shorter versus. longer exposure to the program. After original surveys concluded in 2000, researchers returned to a subset of the original communities in 2003 and 2007. Both follow-ups suggest that larger cumulative transfers to households significantly improved outcomes in many aspects of child physical, cognitive, and language development. The 2007 survey also showed that the cumulative amount received during the program was significantly associated with a reduced number of maternal-reported behavioral problems in children 8-10 years old. Additionally, for children whose mothers had no education, participation in the program for an additional 18 months before age 3 resulted in improved growth of about 1.5cm.

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