Document Type

Honors Project


Political culture, fiscal constraints and institutional incentives have shaped the making and implementation of Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) in Latin America. However, why have CCTs consolidated in Brazil, been secondary in Colombia and remained absent in Venezuela? Brazilian authoritarian legacy and neoliberal rationality combined with strong federalism during economic downturn and provided room for experimentation in social policy, eventually leading to the incorporation and future universalization of CCTs (Bolsa Família). In contrast, less rationalized bureaucracies in Colombia and Venezuela have operated under strong presidentialism, allowing economic recessions and executive electoral incentives to shape weak CCT implementation (Familias en Acción) and the emergence of community-based alternatives (Misiones). This thesis advances a cultural framework based on these countries’ political histories that accounts for variability in type and time of implementation of anti-poverty policies. The project concludes that although political economy structures states’ bureaucratic fields and policy ideas, policy choices and their subsequent development are ultimately dependent upon regime contention and the cultural meaning of rights.



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