The impact of Mexico’s conditional cash transfer programme, Oportunidades, on birthweight

The objective is to evaluate the impact of Oportunidades, a large-scale, conditional cash transfer programme in Mexico, on birthweight. The programme provides cash transfers to low-income, rural households in Mexico, conditional on accepting nutritional supplements health education, and health care.

The primary analyses used retrospective reports from 840 women in poor rural communities participating in an effectiveness study and randomly assigned to incorporation into the programme in 1998 or 1999 across seven Mexican states. Pregnant women in participating households received nutrition supplements and health care, and accepted cash transfers. Using multivariate and instrumental variable analyses, we estimated the impact of the programme on birthweight in grams and low birthweight (<2500 g), receipt of any pre-natal care, and number of pre-natal visits.

Oportunidades beneficiary status was associated with 127.3 g higher birthweight among participating women and a 4.6 percentage point reduction in low birthweight.

The Oportunidades conditional cash transfer programme improved birthweight outcomes. This finding is relevant to countries implementing conditional cash transfer programmes.

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