An Impact Evaluation of Education, Health, and Water Supply Investments
The Bolivian Social Investment Fund
This article reviews the results of an impact evaluation of small‐scale rural infrastructure projects in health, water, and education financed by the Bolivian Social Investment Fund. The impact evaluation used panel data on project beneficiaries and control or comparison groups and applied several evaluation methodologies.An experimental design based on randomization of the offer to participate in a social fund project was successful in estimating impact when combined with bounds estimates to address noncompliance issues. Propensity score matching was applied to baseline data to reduce observable preprogram differences between treatment and comparison groups.
Results for education projects suggest that although they improved school infrastructure, they had little impact on education outcomes. In contrast, interventions in health clinics, perhaps because they went beyond simply improving infrastructure, raised utilization rates and were associated with substantial declines in under‐age‐five mortality. Investments in small community water systems had no major impact on water quality until combined with community‐level training, though they did increase the access to and the quantity of water. This increase in quantity appears to have been sufficient to generate declines in under‐age‐five mortality similar in size to those associated with the health interventions.