Working Paper Series

Using a Structural Model of Educational Choice to Improve Program Efficiency


  • Alain de Janvry, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Frederico Finan,
  • Elisabeth Sadoulet, University of California, Berkeley


  • Goldman School of Public Policy Working Paper (February 2005)


Constructing structural models of educational choice allows to explore design features
for educational programs and to predict how the program would perform in alternative
contexts, for instance when accompanied by new complementary programs. We use the
experience of Progresa, Mexico’s ambitious conditional cash transfer program for
education in poor rural communities, to construct such a model. The impact of transfers
on decisions to enroll in secondary school and to repeat a grade in case of failure is
accurately measured due to randomized treatment in a subset of communities. While
impact measurements of Progresa on educational attainment are available from reduced
form estimates, the structural model allows to decompose the channels of influence in
decision making and to measure their relative importance on observed outcomes. We
measure the gains from a design where future transfers can be credibly committed in
spite of political cycles, and from complementary supply-side programs providing
improved off-school support to students and access to better information about job
opportunities outside the community offered by education.

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