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How Political Competition Fuels Conditional Cash Transfer Programs: The Case of Brazil’s Bolsa Família Program

Bolsa familia
Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

The Brazilian social welfare program Bolsa Família represents the world's largest conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. Its objective is to incentivize families' investments in their long-term human capital, thus, interrupting the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Upwards of 26.5 million needy families are provided monthly cash allowances from the federal government, conditional on compliance with childrens' vaccinations schedules and the sustained enrollment of children in school. In this research, we consider the full records of Brazil's Cadastro Único, a massive administrative dataset designed to identify possible beneficiaries for conditional cash transfer programs. We compare educational attainment of applicants and beneficiaries of Brazil's Bolsa Família program. Our research has the advantage of being the first and only (known) investigation of the full records of the Cadastro Único, which includes household and individual level information on both applicants and recipients of the Bolsa Família program (N=79.7 million individuals' records). Our analyses suggest that PBF has been effective in increasing educational attainment of the most impoverished children of Brazil.

Gabriel Cepaluni is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at the São Paulo State University (Unesp-Franca, Brazil) and Senior Global Challenges Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies and the School of Public Policy at Central European University. He was a visiting professor at Universidad de La Salle (Colombia) and a visiting scholar at Universidad Nacional del Sur (Argentina), Uppsala University (Sweden), Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (France), European Union (Belgium), Aarhus University (Denmark), Brown University, Georgetown University and New York University (United States). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as American Journal of Political Science, Political Analysis, International Political Science Review, Third World Quarterly, and Brazilian Political Science Review. He published the book “Brazilian Foreign Policy in Changing Times” in Brazil, China, and the United States.