Redistribuição e Desenvolvimento? A Economia Política do Programa Bolsa Família

The article offers a qualitative evaluation of Brazil's Bolsa Família (Family Grant or Family Stipend) Program, viewing it from the perspective of an income redistribution and development policy. Analyzing the program's most striking institutional characteristics - targeting the poorest and setting conditions such as school enrollment and immunization of the family's children - the article identifies a major weakness in the program's political economy that could jeopardize its sustainability as a redistributive and development policy. The article suggests that policies with such characteristics in extremely unequal countries like Brazil can make budget limitations endogenous, thus hindering the achievement of the program's own objectives. Two alternative directions are briefly explored: conversion of the program into a hybrid policy, both targeted and universal, and emphasis on the provision of child education services.