Cash Transfers are probably one of the most researched interventions in the world. The great majority of this research has focused on short to medium term impacts. This is not surprising as the first modern Cash Transfer Program, Progresa (now called Oportunidades), is a 16 years old adolescent. In addition, the evidence on “longer” term effects is still considered weak.
We estimate the long-run impact of cash transfers to poor families on children’s longevity, educational attainment, nutritional status, and income in adulthood. To do so, we collected individual-level administrative records of applicants to the Mothers’ Pension program—the first government-sponsored welfare program in the US (1911-1935) —and matched them to census, WWII and death records. Male children of accepted applicants lived one year longer than those of rejected mothers. Male children of accepted mothers received one-third more years of schooling, were less likely to be underweight, and had higher income in adulthood than children of rejected mothers.