Should Conditional Cash Transfers Extend to Secondary Education? Examining the Impact of Brazil's Bolsa Família on High School Transition Rates
Ferreira Schweizer, Pedro
This paper takes a closer look at Bolsa Família, an anti-poverty program, and its impact on youth education over its fifteen years of existence in Brazil. More specifically, it will explore the distinctive effects the program has had after the implementation of its 2008 Variable Youth Benefit extension, or Benefício Variável Jovem in Portuguese, that provided additional monetary assistance to teenagers aged 16 and 17. By analyzing data on program beneficiaries provided by the Brazilian government, the paper hopes to examine the impact on grade promotion rates that can be directly attributed to the 2008 Benefício Variável Jovem extension and what future trends those outcomes seem to indicate for the now well-established program. Understanding this will not only allow us to have more concrete evidence on the program’s efficiency, but, more generally, it will also help in comprehending to what extent conditional-cash transfer programs are suitable for teenagers, who inherently face a higher opportunity cost for their education, and whether an additional monetary incentive should indeed be considered for such recipients. In addition, changes in dropout rates and age-grade distortion rates will also be examined. With this, this study hopes to paint a broader picture of how BVJ implementation has impacted high school education in two profound ways: by ensuring continuity in adolescent schooling and, consequently, altering the composition of the student body itself.