Conditional cash transfers suck …

… or so says this new paper by Javier Báez of the World Bank and Adriana Camacho of Bogotá’s Universidad de los Andes.

The authors wants to measure the long-term effects of CCTs by looking at both participation rates and achievement in standardized tests. They study a CCT experiment in Colombia called Familias en Acción.

The participation rate is what you’d expect: students who participated are a bit more likely to stay in school and graduate than they otherwise would be. But the standardized test results? Well, the CCT made no difference whatsoever.

Students in CCT programs are apparently going to school a bit more. But the effect of these programs on the accumulation of human capital is questionable, according to the authors.

Some people around here are bullish on CCTs. But we need to be careful, and not expect from these programs things they can’t really deliver.

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