Healthcare at the Beginning of Life and Child Survival

Evidence from a Cash Transfer Experiment in Nigeria

Published in: Journal of Development Economics, Volume 143 (March 2020). doi: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.102426

Posted on RAND.org on December 20, 2019

by Edward N. Okeke, Isa Sadeeq Abubakar

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Households in poor countries are encouraged (and sometimes coerced) to increase investments in formal healthcare services during pregnancy and childbirth. Is this good policy? The answer to a large extent depends on its effects on child welfare. We study the effects of a cash transfer program in Nigeria in which households were offered a payment of $14 conditioned on uptake of health services. We show that the transfer led to a large increase in uptake and a substantial increase in child survival driven by a decrease in in-utero child deaths. We present evidence suggesting that the key driver is prenatal health investments.

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