Cash Transfers and Contraceptive Use: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have become important components of social protection policies in Latin America. By establishing coresponsibilities tied to health and education, CCTs may reduce poverty and encourage human capital investment. While CCT programs can have unintended effects on sexual and reproductive health outcomes, such effects have been mixed and poorly documented in South America. This study examines the impact of Ecuador’s CCT program, Bono de Desarrollo Humano, on contraceptive behavior among women of childbearing age who are sexually active and do not wish to become pregnant. We analyze nationally representative data in a regression-discontinuity quasi-experimental design. Using an instrumental variable approach and a set of robustness checks, our study finds no significant effects of the CCT program on contraceptive use. Our results offer important considerations for the ongoing policy debate in South America regarding the effects of cash transfer programs on beneficiaries.