Do We Know What Works? A Systematic Review of Impact Evaluations of Social Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean
144 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2007
Date Written: June 2007
Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon closely related to the low accumulation of human capital and scant economic opportunities for the poor. Government efforts to help households overcome poverty require actions on multiple fronts. The governments of Latin-America and the Caribbean are making important efforts to scale up innovative programs to increase the capabilities and economic opportunities of the poor. Increasingly, the implementation of these programs has been accompanied by significant efforts and resources to evaluate their impact and effectiveness. These evaluations have produced many useful lessons. This study reviews a set of rigorous impact evaluations, placing emphasis on extracting lessons to assess the development effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions. The results presented in this review show a mostly positive picture of the impact of the programs evaluated. Results of the evaluations have also proven to be useful for identifying program weaknesses, such as problems with targeting mechanisms or groups that are not reaping the full benefits of the program, and inducing the adjustments necessary to increase program effectiveness. The evaluation results and the experience in implementing these programs also raise various issues for the reform of social and fiscal policies in order to make public social expenditure more effective, pro-poor, and fiscally sustainable. Scaling up well-targeted programs is key to improving the distributive impact of spending.
Keywords: Impact Evaluation, Social Programs, Latin America
JEL Classification: I38, I12, H43, H51, H52, H53
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation