Obstacles to Takeup: Ecuador's Conditional Cash Transfer Program, the Bono de Desarrollo Humano
Social assistance programs cannot help the poor if the poor do not enroll in them. Obstacles to the takeup of social assistance in industrialized countries include information costs, compliance costs, and psychological costs. Using qualitative field research and quantitative analysis of data from a nationwide survey in 2013-14, we explore the impact of these costs the takeup of the Bono de Desarrollo Humano (BDH), a US $50 monthly cash transfer in Ecuador. Controlling for program design and household poverty, we find that compliance costs and psychological costs each have a significant deterrent effect on BDH takeup. The purpose of social assistance is to help the poor, but if social assistance is to achieve this goal, the poor must actually receive it. This study helps to identify the forces and circumstances that influence the takeup of an important social assistance program in a middle-income Latin American country
James McGuire is Professor and Chair in the Department of Government at Wesleyan University. He received his BA from Swarthmore and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in comparative politics, with a particular focus on democracy, social welfare policies, and public health in Latin America and East Asia. McGuire is the author of Peronism without Perón (Stanford, 1997) and of articles and chapters on Argentine politics and labour unions; Latin American social policies; transitions from authoritarianism; and economic growth, income inequality, and mortality decline, particularly in East Asia and Latin America. His book Wealth, Health, and Democracy in East Asia and Latin America (Cambridge, 2010) explores why some countries do better than others at raising life expectancy and reducing infant mortality. It was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2010 and won the Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research (2011).