More calories or more diversity? An econometric evaluation of the impact of the PROGRESA and PROCAMPO transfer programs on food security in rural Mexico
This paper examines the PROGRESA and PROCAMPO cash transfer programs in Mexico and evaluates their impact on household food security and nutrition. These two programs differ in their gender targeting, with PROGRESA aimed at women and PROCAMPO generally at men, and program conditionality, with PROGRESA linked to development of human capital of children in the households and PROCAMPO linked to agricultural production. We try to answer the following questions. First, can a cash transfer program geared to agricultural production have the same impact on food security as a cash transfer program geared to consumption through purchases? Second, do eligibility requirements (gender of the recipient) and conditionality in the provision of cash transfers matter? Our results suggest that, contrary to conventional wisdom, men do not just drink away cash transfers and that monetary payments linked to a productive asset –land- can have as large or larger impact on food security as cash transfers not linked to a productive asset. We show that both programs boost total food consumption and caloric intake in similar proportions. However, PROCAMPO has a larger impact on meat and vegetables consumption and PROGRESA on the other food category. Furthermore, increased food security is achieved through different channels: PROGRESA through purchases while PROCAMPO through investment in home production. We also find that cash transfers linked to information on nutrition and health increase food diversity. PROCAMPO households that also receive PROGRESA, and the information that goes with it, are more likely to be eating a more varied diet than households that get PROCAMPO only. All this suggests that the choice of program design in terms of food security depends on objectives beyond total food consumption and caloric intake, such as consumption from specific food categories, food diversity, investment in agricultural production, and the degree of access to retail food markets.
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