Distributive Politics and Conditional Cash Transfers: The Case of Brazil’s Bolsa Família
Brazilian politicians have long relied on pork and clientelism to win political support, and recent literature suggests that little has changed. However, researchers have yet to systematically investigate whether political criteria influence the distribution of funds through Bolsa Família. This is especially surprising given the program’s prominence in the international community. In this paper, I examine whether political criteria explain the federal government’s distribution of Bolsa Família. I find little evidence that political criteria explain the difference between the number of poor families that live in a municipality and the number of families that receive support. I conclude by discussing the broader significance of this large, programmatic policy to Brazil’s political development.
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