The Mixed Blessings of a Welfare Program
A new paper (abstract; PDF) by Gustavo J. Bobonis, Melissa González-Brenes, and Roberto Castro examines the effects the Mexican welfare program Oportunidades on spousal abuse:
Beneficiary women are 40 percent less likely to be victims of physical abuse, but are more likely to receive violent threats with no associated abuse. This evidence is consistent with a model of decision-makers’ interactions with asymmetric information in the male partner’s gains to marriage, who can then use threats of violence to extract rents from their female partners.
“The article may have important implications for policy, since it provide a mixed view of conditional cash transfer programs’ effectiveness in improving women’s empowerment within the household,” the authors wrote in an earlier draft. “The program may increase the likelihood of violent threats, which may in turn compromise women’s emotional health and other aspects of their wellbeing.”
In SuperFreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner wrote about another interesting research finding gleaned from Oportunidades data: