Two studies conducted by PEP Research Fellows in Latin America have sparked immediate policy and media responses.
Argentina’s Ministry of the Treasury reformulated its social benefits program based on the findings of an experimental impact evaluation conducted by PEP Research Fellows.
Led by Guillermo Cruces, the PEP-supported study investigated the low take-up of Argentina’s VAT refund program that provides a substantial additional monetary subsidy to beneficiaries of Argentina’s largest conditional cash transfer program.
The research findings on why eligible households and individuals fail to participate in programs that would benefit them and improve their welfare contributed directly to informing the design of a new program that almost immediately replaced the VAT refund program.
The Undersecretary for Tax Policy at the Ministry of the Treasury, Mr. Juan Mariscal, said: “[Dr. Cruces’] work identified the key factors of the program’s effectiveness, as well as its shortcomings, and contributed to its reformulation in the framework of what is now called ‘ANSES Benefits’.”
In response to the PEP team’s national policy conference, the Vice-President of the Central Bank of Argentina, Veronica Rappoport, highlighted “the importance that research of this type has for the financial inclusion initiatives that we carry out in the Bank.” She also applauded the study for its wider policymaking implications. She said: “having evidence from a field experiment with 400,000 individuals represents in itself an innovation in terms of producing evidence for public policy decision making, and we hope it will inspire the generation of more rigorous evidence by both the government as from the local research community.”
The moment the University of Sao Paulo released the results of a PEP Research Fellows study into the impact of early childbearing on women’s employment and earnings in Brazil, the media picked up the story.
The PEP-supported study examines the impact of early childbearing on labor market outcomes in four African and Latin American countries. The research team leader, Ana Lucia Kassouf, conducted the study in Brazil, finding that teenage pregnancy reduces women's wages by up to 30%.
A number of Brazilian television networks, newspapers and websites immediately contacted Professor Kassouf for comments and interviews. Read and watch the report on Globo (in Portuguese).
“Early pregnancy is an important issue in the country and needs to be addressed,” said Professor Kassouf, “I would like to thank PEP for the opportunity to develop this study through the PEP Research Fellows program.”