Saving Lives: Evidence from a Conditional Food Supplementation Program


Many governments in developing countries implement programs that aim to address nutrional failures in early childhood, yet evidence on the effectiveness of these interventions is scant. This paper evaluates the impact of a conditional food supplementation program on child mortality in Ecuador. The Programa de Alimentación y Nutrición Nacional (PANN) 2000 was implemented by regular staff at local public health posts and consisted of offering a free micronutrient-fortied food, Mi Papilla, for children aged 6 to 24 months in exchange for routine health check-ups for the children. Our regression discontinuity design exploits the fact that at its inception, the PANN 2000 was running for about 8 months only in the poorest communities (parroquias) of certain provinces. Our main result is that the presence of the program reduced child mortality in cohorts with 8 months of differential exposure from a level of about 2.5 percent by 1 to 1.5 percentage points.