More schooling and more learning? Effects of a three-year Conditional Cash Transfer program in Nicaragua after 10 years

Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Karen Macours (Paris School of Economics)
John Maluccio (Middlebury College)
Tania Barham (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Education - Health
Fiscal Policy - Public and Welfare Economics

Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs have expanded rapidly over the past decade. Numerous evaluations leave little doubt that such programs can increase enrolment and grades attained––in the short term. But evidence is notably lacking on whether these short-term gains eventually translate into the types of longer term educational (and even labor market) benefits ultimately needed to fully justify these programs. We assess the persistent effects of a 3-year randomized Nicaraguan CCT, 10 years after it began, on completed years of schooling and learning outcomes measured by a set of achievement tests. The outcomes are measured for young men, 19-22 years old, seven years after their families received the last transfer and, for most several years after they have left school. Given the long-term nature, it was paramount to our study to minimize attrition. Consequently, migrants were tracked throughout the country, as well as to neighboring Costa Rica. We find that the short term program effect of a one-half year increase in schooling was sustained into early adulthood. In addition, results indicate significant and substantial (0.25 SD) gains in both math and language achievement scores. Hence in Nicaragua, schooling and achievement gains coincided, implying important long-term returns to CCT programs.


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Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
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