Demographic Externalities from Poverty Programs in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Latin America

Guy Stecklov, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Paul C Winters, American University
Jessica Todd, American University
Ferdinando Regalia, Inter-American Development Bank

In this paper, we use experimental data from cash transfer programs in three Latin America countries to assess the unintended impact of conditional cash transfers programs on childbearing. Our findings show that the program in Honduras, which may have inadvertently been designed to create large childbearing incentives, may have in fact raised fertility by somewhere between 2-4 percentage points – a non-negligible impact in a country where fertility is relatively high. In the two other countries where the programs did not include the same unintentional incentives, Mexico and Nicaragua, we found no net impact of the programs on fertility. Our analysis also explored the potential mechanisms through which fertility in Honduras may have risen and we find that marriage rates may have increased. Furthermore, there is some indication in the other two countries that contraceptive use rose but this might be simply to counteract the impact of reduced spousal separation.

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Presented in Session 90: Demography of Poverty