Studying conditional cash transfer schemes in Latin America: A comparative analysis between Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua

Eleftheria Nila

Conditional cash transfer schemes have emerged over the last 20 years in developing countries as a new social policy tool to tackle poverty. The promotion of conditional cash transfer programs locally and globally is strongly linked with the expansion of the neoliberal system. The new economic environment, in order to be developed and reproduced, had to proceed with the transformation of the social policy framework, emphasizing the eligibility and enforcement rhetoric.This thesis is a comparative case study of the conditional cash transfer programs which were implemented in Brazil, Mexico and Nicaragua. Brazil and Mexico pioneered the implementation of cash transfer schemes and adopted two of the largest conditional cash transfer programs. Instead, Nicaragua developed one of the smaller programs, which was carried out at a subsequent time. The aim of this thesis is the examination of the motivations, goals and results of each program and their interaction with the political and social reality of each country in which it was implemented. To this effect, the comparative study seeks to emphasize on similarities and differences between the programs. Through comparative analysis, political forces and social demands emerged as major factors which affect program’s formation and design Left-wing political forces appeared to view accessibility to the program as a social right and to have low demands on co-responsibility from beneficiaries. In contrast, a conditional cash program implemented by a right-wing or central government seem to have a strong link between accessibility and eligibility conditions towards beneficiaries. Socioeconomic factors such as the rates of poverty, inequality and the rates of coverage of citizens by the social security system in each country are decisive.

Thesis Committee Members
Academic Year
2019 - 2020