Crafting Policies to End Poverty in Latin America: The Quiet Transformation

Cambridge University Press

This book provides a theory and evidence to explain the initial decision of governments to adopt a conditional cash transfer program (the single biggest innovation in social policy in recent decades), and whether such programs are insulated from political manipulations or not. It shows that presidents develop operational rules for poverty alleviation programs that suppress discretion when faced with resistance in the legislature. It also provides evidence that the degree to which executives limit their power affects the extent to which policies are used as political instruments, the programs’ lifespan, and the programs’ success in addressing poverty. These policy outcomes, in turn, influence the effectiveness of machine politics and shape the electoral participation of program recipients. The book combines multiple research methods: case studies from Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Guatemala, and Argentina; analysis of an original data set on social policies; and downstream analysis of a field experiment in Mexico.


Does Corruption Information Inspire the Fight or Quash the Hope? A Field Experiment in Mexico on Voter Turnout, Choice and Party Identification” (with Alberto Chong, Dean Karlan, and Leonard Wantchekon), Journal of Politics, January 2015Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 55-71.

How Corruption Breeds Clientelism“, in Domínguez, Jorge I. et al (eds.) Mexico’s Evolving Democracy: A Comparative Study of the 2012 Elections. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2015.

Do Federal and State Audits Increase Compliance With a Grant Program to Improve Municipal Infrastructure: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial” (with Fernando Martel) BMC Public Health (peer-reviewed publication), 2014.

“Do Conditional Cash Transfers Affect Electoral Behavior? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Mexico”  American Journal of Political Science, 2013. Vol. 57, Issue 1, pp. 1-14.

The Causal Effect of Media-driven Political Interest on Political Attitudes and Behavior” (with Daniel M. Butler), Quarterly Journal of Political Science, 2011 Vol.5: No. 4, pp. 321-337.

Experimental Research on Democracy and Development” (with Leonard Wantchekon), contribution to Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Political Science, Cambridge University Press.

Strategies for Dealing with the Problem of Non-overlapping Units of Assignment and Outcome Measurement in Field Experiments” (with Daniel Rubenson), The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, March 2010, vol. 628, no. 1, pp. 189-199.

Does Religion Distract the Poor? Income and Issue Voting around the World” (with Jonathan Rodden) Comparative Political Studies , 2008, 41: pp. 437-476.

“Experimental Turn in the Study of Democratization” contribution to the Comparative Democratization newsletter, APSA, Volume 9, No. 3, 2011.


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