The results suggest that PROGRESA had a positive effect on the enrollment of children, especially after primary school. Although the program had no significant impact on enrollment of 10 year-old boys, it increased enrollment for 14 year-old boys by 14 percentage points. Program impact then declined for older boys. There was no impact on enrollment of 10 year olds, because almost all children below grade 6 already attended school. The program impact increased with age as the probability of dropping out increased, until around age 14, at which point the cash transfer was no longer available.
If PROGRESA was effective in increasing school participation, then this could result in a reduction of the supply of child labor available in villages, which could result in an increase in child wages. The results suggest that the program did indeed increase child wages by around 6 percent. If families valued the cash transfer and labor income equally, then such an increase in child wages could actually cause parents to pull their children out of school. However, the results suggest that families place more than double the value on the cash transfer than on potential labor income. In other words, the cash transfer has a stronger impact on enrollment than would an equivalent reduction in child wages.
In an attempt to further understand the impact of the cash transfer on enrollment, researchers simulated different variations of PROGRESA using a dynamic model. A simulated program, which increased the amount of the transfer for children above grade 6, while eliminating the transfer for primary school children, could almost double the impact on enrollment for older boys, at no additional cost. At the same time, this kind of program would not affect school enrollment of younger primary-age children, since almost all of them would attend school up to grade 6 even without the treatment. The Mexican government is now piloting this variation of the traditional PROGRESA program.