Since the mid-1990s, governments in Latin America have used conditional cash transfers (CCTs) to reduce poverty, improve health, and boost school enrollment for tens of millions of people. But like any social program that increases income and hence demand, CCTs pose their own risks if they allow for goods and services to be purchased in a non-competitive environment. That is … [Read more...] about Promoting Competition to Boost Welfare Through Social Programs
In mid-2015, tens of thousands of ordinary Guatemalans poured into the streets to protest against a multimillion-dollar corruption scheme at the highest levels of government and demand reform. By September, key ministers and advisers had been fired. The nation's president sat in jail. But today, two years after that euphoric demonstration of people power, little has changed in … [Read more...] about Guatemala: The Crisis of Rule of Law and a Weak Party System
In the mid-1990s, researchers in the United States revealed a stunning gap in the developmental path of rich and poor children. By age three, the researchers found, children of professionals had heard 30 million more words than low-income children. This endowed privileged youngsters with skills that allowed them to acquire richer vocabularies and more sophisticated language … [Read more...] about When Parenting Programs Confront Cultural Taboos
Knowing how governments spend their resources is important because it reflects their development priorities. Moreover, it allows, especially in lean times, trying and seeing “what can be done to improve growth and maintain recent and perhaps fragile benefits in terms of prosperity and social protection?” as mentioned in a previous publication of this blog. In recent years, … [Read more...] about Public Transfers to Households: Who are the Real Beneficiaries?
In recent years, developing countries have struggled to make social welfare programs for the poor and vulnerable more efficient. The distribution of preventative health products is an important example. Such products can help the poor stave off malnutrition and disease and improve overall productivity. But they have traditionally been distributed using subsidized pricing, and … [Read more...] about Can New Methods Sharpen Targeting in Programs for the Poor?