Economic and political inclusion of human development conditional transfer programmes in Latin America?

Armando Barrientos and Juan Miguel Villa

Human development conditional transfer programmes have been adopted by a majority of countries in Latin America to address the intergenerational persistence of poverty. Typically, programmes provide regular and reliable transfers in cash to households in poverty, with transfers conditional on children attending school and on household members attending health clinics. Rigorous impact evaluations have established that, on the whole, programmes reach their explicit objectives, especially as regards nutrition, children’s schooling and improved health care utilisation. It is too early to say whether human development programmes will be successful in reducing the intergenerational persistence of poverty in the region. To certain degree, this will depend on whether they contribute to the economic and political inclusion of groups in poverty and extreme poverty. To the extent that improvements in children’s schooling and health state cannot guarantee a successful inclusion in the labour market, or that transfers reinforce longstanding clientelistic practices in the region; the fuller economic and political inclusion of these groups might not materialise. The paper aims to throw light on these issues by assessing existing knowledge on the longer term effects of participation in human development transfer programmes leads on productive capacity, employment and political participation. It finds a mixed picture.

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