Conditional Cash Transfer: a vaccine against poverty and inequality?

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) have been regarded worldwide as the latest ‘silver bullet’ to fight poverty and inequality.This reputation is largely based on the positive evaluations of the Latin American experiences, such as Progresa in Mexico, Bolsa Escola and Bolsa Alimentacao in Brazil (now unified into Bolsa Familia), and Familias en Accion in Colombia. Defenders of such programmes emphasize that their virtues consist in attacking both long- and short-term poverty and inequality.

The short-term strategy is based on cash transfers to poor families with an immediate effect on poverty, depending on the level of the benefit and the efficiency of the targeting strategy. The long-term effect depends on the effectiveness of the conditionalities attached to the transfers, both in terms of their enforcement and their real power in boosting human and social capital. Conditionalities include compulsory children’s attendance at school, mandatory visits to health centres, and monitoring of nutrition and immunisation. In general, these conditionalities focus on children in order to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty.