Protecting Conditional Cash Transfers

the manipulation of conditional cash transfers by politicians in Brazil is a potentially serious problem.

Conditional cash transfers are powerful tools of social progress in Latin America and the Caribbean. They have reduced short-term poverty for tens of millions of people by providing a monthly stipend and have helped break the intergenerational transmission of poverty by linking financial assistance to behaviors that enhance human capital, like school attendance and health […]

How Political Polarization Holds Latin America Back

Political polarization in Latin America leads to worse outcomes in numerous areas

There are countries where there is a great deal of consensus on issues of national importance, and countries where that consensus is lacking, where the population is divided, distrustful of political opponents, and unwilling to compromise. The latter are polarized societies, and their cleavages lead to worse outcomes in a whole gamut of areas, ranging […]

Promoting Competition to Boost Welfare Through Social Programs

Increasing competition in social programs can boost welfare

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 […]

Guatemala: The Crisis of Rule of Law and a Weak Party System

A weak party system lies behind many of the problems in Guatemala

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 […]

Public Transfers to Households: Who are the Real Beneficiaries?

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 […]

Can New Methods Sharpen Targeting in Programs for the Poor?

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 while […]

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