FROM SOCIAL SAFETY NET TO SOCIAL POLICY?THE ROLE OF CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFERS IN WELFARESTATE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA
During the 1990s, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) were adopted by countries across LatinAmerica as central elements of their poverty reduction strategies. Alongside otherdevelopments in the area of social assistance, CCTs represent an opportunity for countries todevelop an integrated and inclusive set of social policies. At the same time, particular CCTfeatures risk promoting the further residualisation and fragmentation of safety nets. Drawingon the experience of six countries in Latin America, this paper identifies the variations andrecent trends in CCT design and implementation. Based on this review, it considers thecontribution of CCTs to the potential transition from a largely absent or minimal safety net to acoordinated system of social policies.
: cash transfers, targeting, conditionality, social protection, Latin America.
Since the early 1990s, conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have been adopted by countries acrossLatin America as central elements of their poverty reduction strategies. CCTs share threecomponents in common: a cash transfer, a targeting mechanism, and conditionality. In sum,CCTs pay a transfer to the poor provided they follow a pre-specified course of action.This paper analyses the CCT experience in six countries that were among the first tointroduce such policy instruments (see Table 1 at the end of the paper). After providing anoverview of developments in formal welfare systems in Latin America, it explores the differentrationales underlying the introduction of CCTs and compares their policy parameters,including the cash transfer, targeting mechanism, conditionality, duration and exit, cost andfinancing, and institutional arrangements. Building on this comparative analysis, the paperthen discusses the risks and potentialities associated with defining CCT features and thepotential transition from a minimal safety net to inclusive social policy.
The author is grateful to Armando Barrientos, Tatiana Britto, John Hills, Marcelo Medeiros, Joana Mostafa,Peter Townsend and Fabio Veras Soares for helpful discussions on this topic and comments on the paper.
Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE), London School of Economics and Political Science.