Assessing the Long-Term Effects of Conditional Cash Transfers on Human Capital: Evidence from Colombia


  • Policy Research Working Paper Series


  • Conditional cash transfers are programs under which poor families get a stipend provided they keep their children in school and take them for health checks. Although there is significant evidence showing that they have positive impacts on school participation, little is known about the long-term impacts of the programs on human capital. This paper investigates whether cohorts of children from poor households that benefited up to nine years from “Familias en Acción”, a conditional cash transfer program in Colombia, attained more school and performed better on academic tests at the end of high school. Identification of program impacts is derived from two different strategies using matching techniques with household surveys, and regression discontinuity design using a census of the poor and administrative records of the program. The authors show that, on average, participant children are 4 to 8 percentage points more likely than nonparticipant children to finish high school, particularly girls and beneficiaries in rural areas. Regarding long-term impact on tests scores, the analysis shows that program recipients who graduate from high school seem to perform at the same level as equally poor non-recipient graduates, even after correcting for possible selection bias when low-performing students enter school in the treatment group. Although the positive impacts on high school graduation may improve the employment and earning prospects of participants, the lack of positive effects on test scores raises the need to further explore policy actions to couple the program's objective of increasing human capital with enhanced learning.

fecha de publicación

  • 2011-06

Líneas de investigación

  • Education For All
  • Learning
  • Primary Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Teaching
  • Tertiary Education


  • 5681