The Impact of a Cash Transfer Program on Contraception Utilization in Ecuador: A Regression Discontinuity Approach

Maria Carolina Velasco Molina , Brown University
Omar Galarraga, Brown University
Stavroula Chrysanthopoulou, Brown University

Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs are important constituents of social protection policy in Latin America. By establishing co-responsibilities tied to health and education, CCTs aim to reduce poverty and encourage human capital investment. Although CCT programs have been found to have unintended effects in sexual and reproductive health outcomes, these effects have been mixed and barely documented in South America. This study examines the impact of Ecuador’s CCT program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH), on the contraceptive behavior of women of childbearing age. It also explores the role of female empowerment and sexual and reproductive health knowledge as intermediary outcomes in the association between program participation and contraceptive use. We analyze nationally representative data with the quasi-experimental method of regression discontinuity. Using non-parametric local polynomial regression and a full set of robustness checks, our study finds no significant effects of the program on contraceptive use, female empowerment, or knowledge.


 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2