2015 Health and Social Protection, Public Administration Other

Transformative Social Policy in Development? Demystifying Conditional Cash Transfers in Latin America

Johan Sandberg

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have been widely promoted for their ability to simultaneously pursue the twin objectives of short-term poverty alleviation and long-term poverty reduction. Yet, CCTs’ alleged capabilities concerning long-term poverty reduction remain enigmatic, wrapped in theoretical assumptions and ‘taken-for-granted’ expectations. This dissertation accordingly looks at evidence, assumptions, and diffusion of CCTs in Latin America.

The report was presented during the seminar Svenska biståndsformer.

Main findings

  • Based on existing evidence on CCTs’ impact, long-term impact or the plausibility of assumed impact on intermediate and final outcomes remains unknown.
  • Evidence of short-term average effects in localised contexts lack external validity. Most experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations estimate average effects, and hence provide no political economy information of interest to policymakers, such as distribution of effects.
  • There is an overall lack of questions on CCTs in the region’s household surveys – the principal data collection instrument for evaluations. It becomes inherently difficult to single out CCTs’ effects in the presence of other reforms.

Johan Sandberg