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Working Paper No. 06-02

Providing a Healthier Start to Life: The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on Infant Mortality
Tania Barham
January 2006


In this paper, I evaluate the impact of Mexico's conditional cash transfer program, Progresa, on infant mortality. While studies on other aspects of Progresa make use of a randomized treatment and control evaluation database performed in 506 communities, this database lacks sufficient sample size to measure the effect on infant mortality. Instead, I use vital statistics data to determine municipality-level, rural infant mortality rates and create a panel dataset covering the period 1992-2001. I take advantage of the phasing-in of the program over time both between and within municipalities to identify the impact of the program. I find that Progresa led to an 11 percent decline in rural infant mortality among households treated in Progresa municipalities. Reductions are as high as 36 percent in those communities where, prior to program interventions, the population all spoke some Spanish and had better access to piped water.