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Reaching out to the persistently poor in rural areas: an analysis of Brazil’s Bolsa Família conditional cash transfer programme

Parsons, Kenia (2015) Reaching out to the persistently poor in rural areas: an analysis of Brazil’s Bolsa Família conditional cash transfer programme. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The Bolsa Família (BF) is considered to be a well-targeted cash transfer programme for poor families, with benefits conditional on meeting health and educational requirements. Extreme poverty in Brazil is concentrated in rural areas, and is highest among those who rely on agriculture in historically underprivileged areas of the semiarid interior. Although there is no comprehensive study of chronic poverty in Brazil due to lack of longitudinal datasets, one can infer that, the more remote small, poor rural municipalities are, the higher is the probability of persistent and severe poverty. Therefore, it is questionable whether the BF, with conditionalities attached to frequently limited services, is the most appropriate social protection policy for reaching the working-age able-bodied rural poor living in isolated areas. I identified the rural poor in remote and non-remote municipalities using geographical information systems. In this thesis, through four pieces of analytical work, I thus investigate how effectively the BF programme reaches the persistently poor in remote and non-remote rural municipalities. First, I used quantitative methods to investigate whether BF participation rates are higher in poor remote rural municipalities. Second, based on a qualitative analysis of eight interviews at the federal administration level, I investigated the question of whether the policy design and national implementation considered how to reach the persistently poor in remote rural areas. Third, I examined how local administration ensured that the persistently poor were given priority in the implementation. I conducted 14 interviews in four case studies, two in remote and two in non-remote poor rural municipalities. Lastly, I analysed how the rural poor took up benefits with 22 household interviews in rural villages. This thesis concludes that, despite the BF’s cost-efficiency, it does not effectively address the needs of the persistently poor living in remote rural municipalities, where services are non-existent, difficult to access, and of low quality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Kenia Hatsue Silva Parsons
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Hall, Anthony

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