The Political Economy of Program Enforcement: Evidence from Brazil

56 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2017

See all articles by Fernanda Brollo

Fernanda Brollo

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Katja Maria Kaufmann

Mannheim University

Eliana La Ferrara

Bocconi University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 2017

Abstract

Do politicians manipulate the enforcement of conditional welfare programs to influence electoral outcomes? We study the Bolsa Familia Program (BFP) in Brazil, which provides a monthly stipend to poor families conditional on school attendance. Repeated failure to comply with this requirement results in increasing penalties. First, we exploit random variation in the timing when beneficiaries learn about penalties for noncompliance around the 2008 municipal elections. We find that the vote share of candidates aligned with the President is lower in zip codes where more beneficiaries received penalties shortly before (as opposed to shortly after) the elections. Second, we show that politicians strategically manipulate enforcement. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find weaker enforcement before elections in municipalities where mayors from the presidential coalition can run for reelection. Finally, we provide evidence that manipulation occurs through misreporting school attendance, particularly in municipalities with a higher fraction of students in schools with politically connected principals.

Suggested Citation

Brollo, Fernanda and Kaufmann, Katja Maria and La Ferrara, Eliana, The Political Economy of Program Enforcement: Evidence from Brazil (April 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11964, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2957503

Fernanda Brollo (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Katja Maria Kaufmann

Mannheim University ( email )

Mannheim University
Department of Economics
Mannheim, 68131
Germany

Eliana La Ferrara

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

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