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.
Several developing economies have recently introduced conditional cash transfer programs, which provide money to poor families contingent on certain behavior, usually investments in human capital, such as sending children to school or bringing them to health centers. The approach is both an alternative to more traditional social assistance programs and a demand-side complement to the supply of health and education services.
In order to support poor families in the developing world to seek and use health care, a multi-pronged strategy is needed on both the supply and the demand side of health care. A demand-side program called Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) strives to reduce poverty and also increase food consumption, school attendance, and use of preventive health care. Since 1997, seven countries in Latin America have implemented and evaluated CCT programs with health and nutrition components.
This paper discusses the experience of six conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America, a model of social safety nets which have grown to dominate the social protection sector in the region over the last 10 years. We find that while conditional cash transfer programs have generally been successful in terms of reaching their core objective, it is still not clear whether they constitute the most cost efficient or sustainable solution to the development bottleneck they seek to address.