NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Wealthier, Happier and More Self-Sufficient: When Anti-Poverty Programs Improve Economic and Subjective Wellbeing at a Reduced Cost to Taxpayers

Titus J. Galama, Robson Morgan, Juan E. Saavedra

NBER Working Paper No. 24090
Issued in November 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics

We document how an anti-poverty program improves economic and subjective wellbeing, and self-sufficiency. Familias en Accion Urbano, a conditional cash transfer program implemented at scale in the country of Colombia, uses a means-test cutoff score selection rule that provides exogenous variation in program participation. We reproduce the score assignment rule in a nationally representative living standards household survey that measures multiple dimensions of economic and evaluative wellbeing. Three years into the program, beneficiary households at the margin report greater income, consumption and formal employment participation for both the household head and partner. Household income increased by ten times the amount of the government transfer, likely because of gains in formal employment. Beneficiary households at the margin also report greater overall satisfaction with life, greater happiness and greater satisfaction with food. These results support the hypothesis that among households with basic unmet needs, policies that have a permanent impact on income and consumption may also have a lasting impact on subjective wellbeing and self-sufficiency. Moreover, relatively small subsidies, further offset by additional government tax receipt, may generate substantial benefits to poor families at a reduced cost to taxpayers.

download in pdf format
   (4146 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24090

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Chen, Hu, and Sindelar w24065 Leaving Money on the Table? Suboptimal Enrollment in the New Social Pension Program in China
Rau, Sarzosa, and Urzúa w23911 The Children of the Missed Pill
Blanchflower and Oswald w24087 Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America: A Review Essay, and Further Evidence, on Carol Graham’s Happiness for All?
Kugler and Rojas w24248 Do CCTs Improve Employment and Earnings in the Very Long-Term? Evidence from Mexico
McGeary, Dave, Lipton, and Roeper w23995 Impact of Comprehensive Smoking Bans on the Health of Infants and Children
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us