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Is There a Relationship Between Participation in the Conditional Cash Transfer Program Bolsa Família and Educational Outcomes? The Case of Campinas, Brazil Open Access

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Abstract of the DissertationIs There a Relationship Between Participation in the ConditionalCash Transfer Program Bolsa Família and Educational Outcomes?The Case of Campinas, BrazilIn Brazil, although school enrollment is almost universal during the first years of schooling, the persistent low attainment, high repetition rates, and dropout rates, especially among children from the poorest income quintiles, means that many students do not complete basic education. Many who manage to complete basic education stay longer in school, mainly due to grade repetition and low achievement, creating major inefficiencies in the educational system. Conditional cash transfer programs, such as Bolsa Família, are demand-side interventions that compensate poor families for the opportunity costs they incur by sending their children to school. The purpose of this nonexperimental study was to investigate the relationship between participation in the Bolsa Família program and educational outcomes as measured by Saresp 2007 test scores (in Portuguese and math) and age-grade distortion focusing on a sample of 9,424 sixth graders from state public schools in Campinas, Brazil. Independent-samples t test, correlation, multiple regression, and logistic regression analysis were carried out to address the study's research questions. Multiple regression results showed that Bolsa Família participants scored significantly lower in Portuguese and math compared to nonparticipants after controlling for individual and school factors. Logistic regression results showed that the likelihood of presenting age-grade distortion increased if a student was a Bolsa Família participant, had not attended preschool, and had attended remediation classes. State schools that showed the highest performance among Bolsa Família participants were identified as well as some of their characteristics that may favor such results. Findings revealed suggestions for research to address the specific educational needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly Bolsa Família participants, and to further explore how social policies such as conditional cash transfer programs, besides reducing the costs of education, may work in synergy with specific educational interventions such as access to preschool to have a more positive impact on the program's effect on educational achievement.

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