This document summarizes experience with conditional cash transfer or “co-responsibility” (CCT) programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, over a period lasting more than 15 years. During this time, CCTs have consolidated and spread through the region’s various countries as a tool of choice for poverty-reduction policy.
According to the ECLAC database of non-contributory social protection programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean, CCTs are currently being implemented in 18 of the region’s countries, benefiting over 25 million families (about 113 million people) or 19% of the regional population, at a cost of around 0.4% of regional gross domestic product (GDP).
The basic structure of CCTs entails the transfer of monetary and nonmonetary resources to families with young children, living in poverty or extreme poverty, on condition that they fulfil specific commitments aimed at improving their human capacities. Despite the, as yet, inconclusive debates on the appropriateness of these programmes and their results in different domains, they have been hailed as representing a major step in connecting poor and indigent families with school-age children to broader and more comprehensive social-protection systems.
This document, which it is hoped will serve as a basis and input for discussion and progress in building social-protection systems premised on inclusion and universal rights, provides detailed information on the different components of CCTs. It also reviews their main characteristics in terms of the definition and registration of programme users, the targeting mechanisms used, the various types of benefits provided, and the conditionalities attached to them. It then analyses the historical trend of the indicators of CCT investment and coverage, and the information available on their effects in different domains. Lastly, it makes an assessment of the experience and the main challenges that these programmes pose in terms of their sustainability, legal framework, accountability, participation, institutionality and inter-sectoral characteristics. (author abstract)