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IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Work in Progress Seminar

Program evaluations and Policy Spending: Evidence from Conditional Cash Transfers in Latin America

Michelle Rao (LSE)

Thursday 11 July 2024 13:00 - 14:00

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

This paper studies the relationship between causal estimates of program impact and subsequent spending on the evaluated programs. I construct dataset of 128 program evaluations of Conditional Cash Transfers in Latin America and the Caribbean, linked to government expenditures on the same programs. I find no systematic relationship between causal estimates of impact and subsequent spending on the same program. Paper results that are more significant and larger magnitude do not correspond with larger changes in spending. Furthermore, more surprising results, relative to the existing evidence-base, do not correspond with larger changes in spending. These findings hold regardless of: study methodology, publication timing, researcher identity, and the demanding institution for the evaluation. I show that my results are robust to more sophisticated models of information aggregation, commonly used in meta-science. Using a Bayesian hierarchical model, I aggregate study findings on the impact of CCTs for each country’s body of evaluations. I find no systematic relationship between the posterior mean of a country’s findings, and CCT spending in 2015. Taken together, my results suggest that stronger causal evidence of impact do not result in higher policy spending.

This seminar series is jointly organized by the IFS, STICERD, and UCL.

IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Economics Work In Progress seminars are held on Thursdays in term time at 13:00-14:00, at the IFS, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar organisers: Oriana Bandiera (STICERD, LSE), Imran Rasul (UCL), Britta Augsburg (IFS) and Jonathan Weigel (LSE).

For further information please contact Britta Augsburg: britta_a@ifs.org.uk.

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