How Does Bolsa Familia Work?: Best Practices in the Implementation of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean

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Hellmann, Aline Gazola
Sep 2015
Bolsa Familia (PBF) is a conditional cash transfer program (CCT) focused on health and education that has been implemented by the federal government of Brazil since 2003. The Ministry for Social Development and to Combat Hunger (MDS) is responsible for the program, defines the eligibility criteria and authorizes payments to families. Some of the principal characteristics of this program are its focus on families as beneficiaries (those with monthly per capita incomes lower than R$154.00), variable benefits according to the family composition that prioritize children and adolescents, direct payment through a bank card, access to the program throughout a unified mechanism (Cadastro Unico), shared management responsibilities with states and municipalities, and the administration of quotas by municipality using an estimate of poor families developed in partnership with the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). In June 2015, PBF supported 13,827,369 families who on average received payments of R$167.15. With a budget equivalent to 0.5% of the gross domestic product, PBF helped reduce the infant mortality rate caused by undernourishment and diarrhea by more than 50%. The program also increased the passing rate of students in secondary education from 75.7% to 79.7%. This document is part of a series of studies in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that aims to systematize knowledge about CCT operations.