Improving Maternal Health with Incentives to Mothers vs. Health Workers: Evidence from India

Research Seminars
Academic Areas Finance
Sisir Debnath, University of Virginia
February 3, 2013 | 8:00 AM - 9:03 AM | Sunday
AC2MLT, hyderabad, Hyderabad, India
For ISB Community

Government cash transfers conditional on the behavior of recipients are becoming increasingly common in developing countries. This paper assesses the role of incentives given to multiple agents using a unique program that provided cash incentives to pregnant women and to health workers conditional on child delivery at health facilities and on obtaining other health services. To estimate the effects of this program, I exploit differences in eligibility and transfer size by location, income, and caste status, and I use data from the District Level Household Survey (2007-08). I find that the program increased the probability of a delivery at a health facility by 4 percentage points. The program also significantly increased utilization of prenatal and postnatal care. Although the incentive amounts for health workers were substantially smaller than that of mothers, the effect of an additional dollar given to a health worker are estimated to be substantially larger than that of dollar given to a mother. These results suggest that choosing the agents to incentivize are crucial to increase utilization of public services.

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