We analyze how peers affect the participation in a family allowance for poor families in Chile called Subsidio Unico Familiar (SUF) using a regression discontinuity design. To identify the spillovers effect, we exploit variation in the information about social programs due to a home-visitation program for families in extreme poverty introduced in 2002 called Chile Solidario (CS). Conditional on an index of wealth, eligibility to receive the home-visits are random around municipality level cutoffs. We find that not only individual participation in CS increases the take-up of SUF, but that participation in SUF also responds to neighbors’ participation in CS. In particular, we estimate network effects on participation in social programs of about .5. To put this figure in context, if neighbors’ participation in SUF increases by 3.7pp, then the participation of the household increases by 1.5pp. To understand the mechanisms through which peer effects operate, we allow for heterogeneity for different types of networks. First, as participation in SUF is conditional on school enrollment, we study impacts separately for families whose closest school is at most at 275 meters from home. We find that neighbors and schools are complements as network effects from neighbors are only statistically significant for families living far from schools. This suggests that neighbors and school might be passing along the same type of information about benefits and cost of application to SUF. Second, we also estimated impacts for families living close and far from the municipality office, which is the location to apply for SUF. We find that neighbor effects are only statistically significant for families living close to the municipality office (ie, at most at 2.2km); this suggests that social services and neighbors seem to pass along the same information about application costs.
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