"Oportunidades" to Reduce Smoking in Mexico?

Mabel Andalon Lopez, Cornell University

This paper investigates the causal effect of Oportunidades, a federal anti-poverty program in Mexico, on the smoking behaviors of its participants. The benefits of this program include sizable cash transfers, health information sessions and schooling. Affecting smoking is not a goal of this program. However, health economics research suggests that the Oportunidades intervention could substantially change smoking among poor Mexicans. Exploiting an exogenous jump in program participation by means of a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design, the evidence of this paper suggests a zero local average treatment effect on smoking among adults that participated in the program an average of four years. In contrast, Oportunidades might have increased slightly the smoking rates of participant adolescents. Finally, differential treatments by sex enable isolating the income effect of Oportunidades by estimating the program's impact on adult male smoking. The findings in this paper indicate a null income effect on adult smoking.

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Presented in Session 14: Social Programs and Economic Well-Being in Developing Countries