Conditional Cash Transfer Programs ( Ccts ) Essay

Conditional Cash Transfer Programs ( Ccts ) Essay

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Conditional Cash Transfer programs (CCTs) have recently emerged as a central component of social policy across Latin America. The rationale of CCT programmes is to address short term poverty through monthly cash payments, and long term poverty by attaching conditions to mandatory school attendance and healthcare use. Most countries in Latin America have some kind of CCT programme (Cruz and Zigelhofer: 2014). Brazil’s CCT, Bolsa Familia (Family Allowance) is the largest CCT programme in the world. Today, Bolsa Familia covers 13 million households, with about 5 people in each household. This equates to about 25% of the population of Brazil (Hall: 2006). The programme is targeted for those whose income levels fall under the categories of poverty, or extreme poverty in Brazil, defined as those whose income falls under $2.25 USD per day (World Bank: ). The goal is to promote long term ‘human capital accumulation’ (). Since its implementation in 2003, Bolsa Familia has produced significant evidence to indicate it has alleviated poverty. The formal poverty rate in Brazil has reduced from 25% of the population in 2003 to 8.9% in 2013 (World Bank: 2013). From 2003 – 2005 alone, there was a fall in absolute poverty in Brazil by 19% (Hall: 2008). This reduction was achieved with only a modest amount of investment, making up about 0.4% of Brazil’s GDP (Cruz and Ziegelhofer: 2014). These statistics contributed to the programme being widely praised for its success. While these statistics are sensational – this essay will specifically address whether the programme can reach its goal of long term human capital accumulation.
The debates surrounding CCT programmes are highly polarized. Nancy Birdsall, the President of the Centre for Global Develo...


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...ill uncover the extent to which the programme can be accused of short-termism. By situating the theory of human capital accumulation in Brazil’s strong tradition of ‘developmentalism’ (Ban: 2013), the use of Bolsa Familia for electoral purposes (Hunter and Power: 2006), and the spread of clientelism (Hall, 2012). In light of my analysis, I will suggest that Bolsa Familia would be better able to create long term human capital accumulation if the programme was extended to assure the quality of education, healthcare, and food security. Then, I will argue it is in Brazil’s interest to improve the quality of education, healthcare, and food security providence to assure Bolsa Familia meets its goal of human capital accumulation. However, the extent to which this can be achieved will be limited by financial resources and the ability to implement and monitor the programme.

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