“The Impact of Social Assistance Programs on Subjective Well-being: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from a Cash Transfer Program in Colombia” with Titus J. Galama, and Juan E Saavedra (working paper)


This paper estimates the effect of the Familias en Acción conditional cash transfer program on life satisfaction during the first wave of program expansion to large cities in Colombia.  Familias en Acción provides cash transfers to poor households with children under the age of 18 conditional on the children meeting school attendance or doctor checkup requirements.  All households with children under the age of 18 and a government assigned poverty score under a specific level are eligible for the program, creating exogenous variation in program participation around the eligibility cutoff. This study re-creates the poverty score and uses the sharp cutoff in eligibility as the basis for a regression discontinuity research design.  The results show that the program positively affected many aspects of life – households that received a cash transfer increased spending on a wide variety of goods to make their lives more comfortable, household members were more likely to be formally employed, and household heads reported higher levels of satisfaction with their income. However, the positive outcomes did not result in a statistically significant increase in head of household self-reported life satisfaction. 


Email Robson Morgan for a copy of the paper at rhmorgan@usc.edu