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Maternity Support, Child Health and UnintendedGendered Effects

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • September 22, 2022
  • Aishwarya Kekre, Kanika Mahajan

This paper evaluates a maternity support conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme, launched in October 2011, on short and long-run health outcomes of children in India. We estimate intent-to-treat effects of the program by exploiting a natural experiment arising from select geographical implementation and the eligibility of program benefits for first/second born children using the National Family Health Survey-4 data. We find an increase in birth weight, duration of breastfeeding and long term weight-for-age, with a larger impact on male children. The effects are positive for height-for-age and negative for infant mortality, albeit insignificant, and significantly negative for neonatal mortality but only over a longer time period. These results are in contrast to the existing two studies in the nascent literature that find no positive effect of maternity support CCTs on child health outcomes, thus, showing that institutional factors that ensure supply of healthcare services to meet the conditionalities imposed in a CCT may be important. We show the robustness of our findings to different specifications, test for pre-trends and address the issue of self-reporting of outcomes by households.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka