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Title page for ETD etd-07142015-085518

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Layton, Matthew Lloyd
URN etd-07142015-085518
Title Conditional Social Assistance and the Politics of Social Exclusion in Latin America
Degree PhD
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Elizabeth J. Zechmeister Committee Co-Chair
Mitchell A. Seligson Committee Co-Chair
Jonathan Hiskey Committee Member
  • political empowerment
  • public opinion
  • political behavior
  • welfare
  • conditional cash transfer
  • Brazil
Date of Defense 2015-06-05
Availability unrestricted
Over the last two decades, Latin American countries have adopted conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs as their primary means of providing social assistance to their citizens living in poverty. Political scientists have shown that heads of state who are responsible for implementing these programs receive electoral bonuses because CCTs mobilize voter turnout among beneficiaries who are significantly more likely to vote for those chief executives. In contrast, what is as yet unknown is whether CCT policies foster or undermine a central goal of these programs, namely political empowerment among beneficiaries. This dissertation analyzes the effect of CCTs on citizen empowerment by studying how Latin American political elites allocate CCT benefits, how those benefits alter the civic and political engagement of recipients, and the extent to which recipients are stigmatized by society as a result of their participation. Applying multiple methods, including statistical matching techniques, hierarchical modeling, and content analysis, I draw on public opinion survey data from Latin America, program data on assistance allocation, and focus group interviews conducted during fieldwork in Brazil to present a theoretical framework and empirical evidence that link current anti-poverty policies to program deficiencies in fostering vibrant, autonomous citizenship among recipients. Across a series of analyses, I find biases in the distribution, operation, and perceptions of contemporary CCT programs that simultaneously undermine the capacity of these programs to break persistent cycles of social exclusion and empower autonomous citizens.
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