December 2010

IZA DP No. 5382: Local Electoral Incentives and Decentralized Program Performance

published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2012, 94 (3), 672 - 685

This paper analyzes how electoral incentives affected the performance of a major decentralized conditional cash transfer program intended on reducing school dropout rates among children of poor households in Brazil. We show that while this federal program successfully reduced school dropout by 8 percentage points, the program's impact was 36 percent larger in municipalities governed by mayors who faced reelection possibilities compared to those with lame-duck mayors. First term mayors with good program performance were much more likely to get re-elected. These mayors adopted program implementation practices that were not only more transparent but also associated with better program outcomes.