Conditional Cash Transfer, which give money to poor families in Latin American if their children go to school and the mother attends health seminars, are popular with the development community as many studies have shown their effectiveness at increasing school enrollment and nuitrition. But, they are also popular with politicians, President Lula has increased/maintained
his popularity by expanding the Brazalian program.
Chris Blattman points to a new paper, that showed in Uruguay that giving families a conditional cash transfer raised the popularity of the in power political party by over 20% compared to groups that did not receive them. So are conditional cash transfer just political pandering?
Where democracy is intact, politician still must run these programs effectively as evident by a recent paper (de Janvry, Finan, & Sadoulet) that showed for Bolsa Famalia the Brazilian transfer program, that effectiveness at decreasing drop out rates was closely linked to mayors facing reelections.
So maybe the result is that the programs increase political popularity if they are run well, that's a result I can live with