Bolsa Família after Brasil Carinhoso: an analysis of the potential for reducing extreme poverty

Rafael Guerreiro Osório and Pedro H. G. Ferreira de Souza

The Bolsa Família Programme (Programa Bolsa Família – PBF) is a monthly cash transfer from the Brazilian federal government to poor and extremely poor families enrolled in the Single Registry of Social Programmes. Since 2009, transfers last for a minimum period of two years, regardless of changes in household income. However, a family may no longer receive transfers if it fails to abide by certain conditions, such as ensuring that children and adolescents in the family go to school and achieve attendance rates of least 85 per cent during the school year for beneficiary children aged 6-15 and 75 per cent for teenagers aged 16-17.

These characteristics classify the PBF as a targeted and conditional cash transfer programme. From its inception until the introduction of the Programa Brasil Carinhoso (PBC), the method for calculating the amounts that each family receives—the benefit design—has undergone modifications. In this Policy Research Brief, the new PBF benefit design, implemented in December 2012, is analysed in terms of its potential contribution to overcoming extreme poverty, as laid out in the Plan for Brazil Without Misery (Plano Brasil Sem Miséria – PBSM). The first section describes the changes made to PBF’s benefit design; the subsequent section uses simulations to illustrate the potential impact of each design on extreme poverty. The simulations suggest that the introduction of the PBC benefit may greatly increase its effectiveness incombating extreme poverty, particularly among children.

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