I asked Cesar Zucco to write a blog post about his new article in AJPS entitled “When Payouts Pay Off: Conditional Cash Transfers and Voting Behavior in Brazil 2002–10.” He notes:
- Governments around the world often implement policies that transfer money directly to citizens. Although in many cases these policies are not intended to buy votes, and even though governments do not necessarily monitor how citizens vote, direct transfers can affect voting behavior.
- Our study examines data from large scale Conditional Cash Transfer programs (CCTs) implemented in Brazil. CCTs are social programs that make monthly monetary payments to poor families and require beneficiaries to meet conditions related to the education and health of their children. CCT programs were introduced in Brazil in the late 1990’s and currently benefit more than 13 million families in the country.
- We took a look at whether beneficiaries of government largesse vote disproportionally for the incumbent government, and whether it matters if the current government introduced the transfer program or simply continued an ongoing policy.
- We found strong evidence that CCT beneficiaries supported the incumbent presidential candidate at higher rates than non-beneficiaries in all three presidential elections held in the period. However, the fact that incumbents from different parties benefited from the same program in different years suggests a relatively short memory on the part of voters. Voters seem to reward the current incumbent, whomever he or she may be.