Program

Apr 01, 2008

OVERVIEW

Progresa is a
subsidy program that gives educational grants to the poorest families in rural
Mexico. The program is designed to target only the very poorest families
and aims to reduce differential schooling rates between the poor and wealthy
households. An evaluation in which villages were randomly assigned finds
that the Progresa program was effective in increasing enrollment rates and
education levels of children in poor families. Progresa was also
effective in decreasing the economic inequality of education rates for poor
compared with wealthy households.

DESCRIPTION OF
PROGRAM

Target population: the
poorest rural families in Mexico

The Progresa poverty program is based on a “demand”
approach to increasing education rates among the poor. This means that
the program targets only the poorest families rather than previous “supply”
approaches which target whole communities. The criticism of supply
approaches is that they are not especially effective in increasing education
rates among the poorest families and that most benefits are received by
well-to-do families. Progresa’s approach is to provide educational grants
for rural families who are identified as the “poorest” using census
data. Children had to attend at least 85% of school days to keep
receiving this grant and it is hypothesized that this requirement and the
families’ supplemental income will increase the likelihood that the child
attends school as opposed to working for additional income.

EVALUATION(S) OF
PROGRAM

Schultz, T. P. (2001). School subsidies for the
poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa poverty program
(CDP No. 834). New
Haven, Connecticut: Yale University, Economic Growth Center.

Evaluated
population: 19,716 children of the poorest rural Mexican families aged
5-16 years

Approach: 314 out of 495 eligible communities were
randomly assigned to treatment conditions. The remaining 181 communities
made up the control group which received no treatment. In treatment
communities, census data was used to determine the poorest families who would
be eligible for the intervention. Students of these families had to be in
grades 3 through 9 and attending at least 85% of school days.
Compensation rates varied depending on sex and grade level of the child and
were adjusted periodically for inflation rates. The researchers examined
measures on enrollment rates, educational attainment, and other variables
associated with family structure changes and cost/benefit program outcomes.

Results: Enrollment rates for children in Progresa
treatment communities were higher than those in control communities.
Impacts were larger in sixth grade, than earlier grades and larger for girls
than boys (14.8 and 6.5 percentage point increases, respectively). Economic
inequality in school enrollments was decreased in treatment communities
compared with controls.

SOURCES FOR MORE
INFORMATION

References

Schultz, T. P. (2001). School subsidies for the
poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa poverty program
(CDP No. 834).
New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University, Economic Growth Center.

KEYWORDS: Children, Adolescents, Rural or Small Town, Community or Media Campaign, Parent or Family Component, Attendance

Program information last updated 4/1/08