Just a Little Bit Later: The Effect of Oportunidades on Age at Marriage among Poor Girls in Mexico

Janna McDougall, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Margaret Greene, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Anne Golla, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Early marriage and childbearing can contribute to the transmission of poverty in developing countries, with young parents facing difficulty in accumulating and passing along the human capital their children need to move out of poverty themselves. Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, which provide payments to families for adopting practices that protect or improve their health and increase school attendance, can potentially break this cycle through economic and non-economic mechanisms. This paper investigates the effect of a CCT program in Mexico on delaying the age at which girls marry, using panel data from the program evaluation. We find that girls whose families receive cash transfers based on their school attendance are less likely to marry early than girls whose families don't receive transfers. The study results suggest that CCT programming can lead to long-term benefits that should be considered when planning scale-up in countries with existing or new CCT programs.

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Presented in Session 23: The Transition to Adulthood in Developing Countries