Human capital and its relation to poverty are central areas of study in development economics. The Mexican conditional cash transfer (CCT) program Progresa/Oportunidades is a particularly innovative human capital development program that was rigorously evaluated using a randomized design. In a time when randomized evaluations of social policy were still rare, a large-scale randomized evaluation was carried out that demonstrated important effects of the program on human capital accumulation and on poverty alleviation.
The program’s novelty and the finding of positive initial impacts contributed to both a large scaling up within Mexico and an impressive spreading of the program’s key features to new programs around the world. Susan Parker will review the academic literature on the development, evaluation and findings of the Progresa/Oportunidades program from her work with co-author Petra E. Todd.