Absence of Conflict of Interest.
Ranzani, M., & Rosati, F. (2014). The impact of Oportunidades on school participation and child labour. Rome, Italy: Understanding Children’s Work.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program (Oportunidades) on school attendance and participation in work for children ages 8 to 14 (during the time of the intervention).
- Using survey data from a randomized controlled trial, the authors analyzed the average program impact of the Oportunidades program on schooling and work for boys and girls using a statistical model.
- The study found that Oportunidades significantly increased school participation for boys and girls and significantly decreased participation in work for boys only.
- The quality of the causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because, although it was based on a randomized controlled trial with high attrition, the authors demonstrated that the treatment and control groups were similar before the intervention. This means we have confidence that the estimated effects are attributable at least in part to Oportunidades, although other factors could also have contributed.
Features of the Intervention
From 1997 to 2012, the Oportunidades program provided monthly conditional cash transfers to 5.8 million households, which is around 20 percent of the average total household income. The cash transfer is conditional upon child school attendance (85% of days) for children under 18 and health clinic visits for household members, as well as the requirement for pregnant women and lactating women to take nutritional supplements and go to five pre-natal visits. The amount of the cash transfer varies by gender and increases with the grade of the child. However, if a child repeats a grade twice, he or she will permanently lose the cash transfer.
Features of the Study
The study used survey data from a randomized controlled trial. The original study was conducted across 506 rural communities in 7 states in Mexico. The communities were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups (320 communities in the treatment group and 186 in the control group). Poor households, based on a marginality index, were selected to participate in the program.
In this study, the authors used the 1997 baseline Survey of Household Socio-Economic Characteristics (ENCASEH) as well as information from follow-up surveys completed in October 1998, March 1999, and November 1999. The authors restricted the sample to children 8 to 14 years old at the time of the baseline survey and to those having complete information across the baseline and follow-up surveys. This resulted in 16,785 children in 9,174 households in 493 localities. The authors used statistical models to test the impact of the Oportunidades program on schooling and work.
- For children ages 8 to 14, the study found that Oportunidades significantly reduced participation in work by 3 percentage points for boys but had no significant effect for girls.
Education (School participation/enrollment)
- For children ages 8 to 14, the study found that Oportunidades significantly increased school participation by 5 percentage points for boys and 6 percentage points for girls.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors note that overall attrition for the control group was substantial across the waves of survey collection; the attrition rate was 27 percent for boys and 29 percent for girls. The authors tested for baseline equivalence between the groups and found a few violations of balance, which they noted as small. The authors accounted for outcomes at baseline and included a variety of control variables in the models such as child age, gender, education level of parents, and marginality index.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of the causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because, although it was based on a randomized controlled trial with high attrition, the authors demonstrated that the treatment and control groups were similar before the intervention. This means we have confidence that the estimated effects are attributable at least in part to Oportunidades, although other factors could also have contributed.