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Children's opportunities and impact evaluation

(2015)
Author
Promoter
(UGent)
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Abstract
Impact evaluation of social policies often adopts a positive rather than a normative perspective. “Impact” refers to the change of an outcome that can be attributed only to the effect of the policy. The evaluation problem thus resides in extracting the “causal effect” of the program or policy under study. However, such interpretation can be identified with a positive rather than a normative perspective which requires value judgements of ethical, political, or aesthetic nature. That is, an evaluation from a normative perspective looks at what ought to be instead of what it is. The purpose of my thesis is to connect both perspectives by offering an evaluation of a Conditional Cash Transfer program in Mexico from the perspective of children’s opportunities. To do that, I combine methods from the impact evaluation and inequality of opportunity literature. In particular, I analyze to which extent the program affects opportunities for health, cognitive development, and education of participant children. The thesis is organized as follows: Chapter 1 offers the analysis of health outcomes for children aged 2-6 years. To establish the effect of the program, conditional cumulative distribution functions for children in and out the program are compared according to stochastic dominance criteria. The methodology allows to identify where in the distribution the program is effective for children whose parents have certain characteristics or types as is referred to in the literature of equality of opportunity. The main finding from this chapter is that the treatment has substantial positive effects on the health opportunities for children from indigenous parents. Also, some effects are found on non-indigenous children, although these are weaker. Chapter 2 concentrates on cognitive and non-cognitive early child development. Four indicators of cognitive and one of non-cognitive ability are analyzed. As in Chapter 1, the analysis relies on stochastic dominance criteria using conditional cumulative distribution functions. The results suggest the program positively influences children’s non-cognitive abilities: children enrolled in the program manifest fewer behavioral problems compared to those not enrolled. Effects for boys and girls, and for indigenous and non-indigenous children are substantial and cover a large part of the outcome’s distribution. With regard to cognitive development, results are less outspoken: only short-term memory ability shows positive effects. Nonetheless, the results demonstrate that children with low values of cognitive development benefit from the program, whereas children with high values do not. From an equal opportunity perspective, these results can be interpreted as positive. Finally, Chapter 3 concentrates on the effect of the program on children’s educational opportunities using school re-enrollment. To determine the effect of the program, I provide results for Generalized Lorenz and Lorenz dominance. Under certain conditions discussed in this chapter, one can interpret dominance as an improvement for any measure of inequality, which makes the approach quiet robust. The results show that the program improves opportunities for school re-enrollment, especially for those who completed primary education. In addition, two popular measures of inequality are presented with the purpose of contrasting the results obtained with dominance criteria: the Human Opportunity Index and the Gini Welfare Index. Results for these indices are similar and reinforce the conclusions drawn by the analysis of Generalized Lorenz and Lorenz dominance.
Keywords
inequality of opportunity, children, Mexico, Impact evaluation, Oportunidades

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Figueroa Oropeza, Jose. “Children’s Opportunities and Impact Evaluation.” 2015 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Figueroa Oropeza, J. (2015). Children’s opportunities and impact evaluation. Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Figueroa Oropeza, Jose. 2015. “Children’s Opportunities and Impact Evaluation”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Figueroa Oropeza, Jose. 2015. “Children’s Opportunities and Impact Evaluation”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
Vancouver
1.
Figueroa Oropeza J. Children’s opportunities and impact evaluation. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; 2015.
IEEE
[1]
J. Figueroa Oropeza, “Children’s opportunities and impact evaluation,” Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent, Belgium, 2015.
@phdthesis{7006235,
  abstract     = {Impact evaluation of social policies often adopts a positive rather than a normative perspective. “Impact” refers to the change of an outcome that can be attributed only to the effect of the policy. The evaluation problem thus resides in extracting the “causal effect” of the program or policy under study. However, such interpretation can be identified with a positive rather than a normative perspective which requires value judgements of ethical, political, or aesthetic nature.  That is, an evaluation from a normative perspective looks at what ought to be instead of what it is. The purpose of my thesis is to connect both perspectives by offering an evaluation of a Conditional Cash Transfer program in Mexico from the perspective of children’s opportunities. To do that, I combine methods from the impact evaluation and inequality of opportunity literature. In particular, I analyze to which extent the program affects opportunities for health, cognitive development, and education of participant children. The thesis is organized as follows: 
Chapter 1 offers the analysis of health outcomes for children aged 2-6 years. To establish the effect of the program, conditional cumulative distribution functions for children in and out the program are compared according to stochastic dominance criteria. The methodology allows to identify where in the distribution the program is effective for children whose parents have certain characteristics or types as is referred to in the literature of equality of opportunity. The main finding from this chapter is that the treatment has substantial positive effects on the health opportunities for children from indigenous parents. Also, some effects are found on non-indigenous children, although these are weaker. 
Chapter 2 concentrates on cognitive and non-cognitive early child development. Four indicators of cognitive and one of non-cognitive ability are analyzed. As in Chapter 1, the analysis relies on stochastic dominance criteria using conditional cumulative distribution functions. The results suggest the program positively influences children’s non-cognitive abilities: children enrolled in the program manifest fewer behavioral problems compared to those not enrolled. Effects for boys and girls, and for indigenous and non-indigenous children are substantial and cover a large part of the outcome’s distribution. With regard to cognitive development, results are less outspoken: only short-term memory ability shows positive effects. Nonetheless, the results demonstrate that children with low values of cognitive development benefit from the program, whereas children with high values do not. From an equal opportunity perspective, these results can be interpreted as positive. 
Finally, Chapter 3 concentrates on the effect of the program on children’s educational opportunities using school re-enrollment. To determine the effect of the program, I provide results for Generalized Lorenz and Lorenz dominance. Under certain conditions discussed in this chapter, one can interpret dominance as an improvement for any measure of inequality, which makes the approach quiet robust. The results show that the program improves opportunities for school re-enrollment, especially for those who completed primary education. In addition, two popular measures of inequality are presented with the purpose of contrasting the results obtained with dominance criteria: the Human Opportunity Index and the Gini Welfare Index. Results for these indices are similar and reinforce the conclusions drawn by the analysis of Generalized Lorenz and Lorenz dominance.},
  author       = {Figueroa Oropeza, Jose},
  keywords     = {inequality of opportunity,children,Mexico,Impact evaluation,Oportunidades},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {XV, 151},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Economics and Business Administration},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Children's opportunities and impact evaluation},
  year         = {2015},
}