Conditional Cash Transfers and Cognitive, Non-Cognitive Outcomes: The Case of the Bono de Desarrollo Humano in Ecuador
Abstract: The BDH cash transfer is a social protection program directed to the poorest households in Ecuador. This paper examines the impact of the BDH cash transfer on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes for students that want to enter a higher education institution. Close attention is put on the Ser Bachiller exam score, student´s expectations, motivations and self-esteem. The data used corresponds to the Ser Bachiller data base and the Associated Factors Survey for the academic cycle 2016-2017 (one cross-sectional period). The short-term exposure to the program was evaluated building a pseudo-assignation index (pseudo RS index) and a regression discontinuity design. The main results show that households that are near the assignation score (28.2) have an increased probability of participating in the program that ranges from 7.1 to 7.9 percentage points. For the cognitive outcomes, IV estimates reveal that the BDH cash transfer has a statistically significant negative effect on the mathematics score that ranges from 0.35 to 0.43 points (over 10 points). Regarding the non-cognitive outcomes, the BDH has a negative impact on students’ academic self-esteem on both, mathematics class that ranges from 0.25 to 0.28 percentage points) and a similar effect on language class and a statistically significant and negative impact on the expectation to obtain a master’s degree of 0.21 percentage points.