restricted access Conditional Cash Transfer Programs, the Economy, and Presidential Elections in Latin America

Numerous recent country studies demonstrate that beneficiaries of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs vote for incumbents at higher rates. It is reasonable to expect that, as a consequence, those incumbents will perform better nationally in the next election. This article warns against such an extrapolation. It analyzes an original cross-national data set with information for eighty-four Latin American presidential elections that took place between 1990 and 2010. My results reveal that CCT programs have not improved incumbents’ aggregate electoral performances in the region, contradicting common speculative claims of the literature. They also confirm the classic economic voting hypothesis that incumbents are held accountable in the polls for their economic performance.