Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

The impact of cash transfers on childbearing in developing countries: Experimental evidence from Central America

Thursday, March 24, 2005 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

CGD and JHU-SAIS hosted Paul Winters, Department of Economics, American University, to present "The impact of cash transfers on childbearing in developing countries: Experimental evidence from Central America." Suzanne Duryea, Research Department, Inter-American Development Bank was the discussant. 

ABSTRACT: Few demographic questions have generated so much debate over so long a period as whether or not transfers to poor parents increase or decrease childbearing. Malthus provided an elegant and dismal assessment that increased support to the poor would only exacerbate their poverty by allowing them to marry earlier and hence bear more children. This debate continues to hold the interest of researchers but largely under a differnt roof; namely in the examination of government policies that explicity or implicitly affect childbearing behavior. This research has centered on developed countries where fertility rates have already dropped and not on high-fertility developing countries in the midst of a transition to lowwer fertility rates. In this paper, using unique, experimentally designed data sets from Honduras and Nicaragua, we seek to fill this gap in the literature by examining the impact of anti-poverty cash transfer programs on childbearing. Initial results indicate that the Family Assistance Program in Honduras has increased fertility among poor beneficiary households while the Social Protection Network in Nicaragua has not. The divergent fertility outcomes seem to be the direct result of differences in the design of the two programs.