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The last shall be first: political dimensions of conditional cash transfers in Brazil

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Early evidence suggests that Brazil's Bolsa Família (Family Stipend) program, which currently benefits over 12 million poor families, has alleviated absolute poverty. Although hailed by many as an unqualified success, its political dimensions have been largely ignored or underplayed. These include, for example, the unashamed use of Bolsa Família for electoral purposes, the spread of clientelism and patronage, and the growing dependence of Brazil's poor on income transfers rather than productive employment. Furthermore, there are indications that the popularity of Bolsa Família is encouraging short-termism in social policy. Many Brazilian policy makers now seem to view the program as mainstream social policy rather than as a temporary measure-a perspective that could undermine longer-term investments in key areas such as health and basic education.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/41799/

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