Managing the Principal Agent Problem in Bolsa Familia

A look at contextual factors that affect the quality of implementation

by Christian Van Stolk, Sunil Patil

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Research Questions

  1. If the incentives of the implementing agency are more closely aligned (e.g. the presence of a financial programme incentive and/or accountability relationship) to those of the service users will the quality of implementation be greater?
  2. Is the capacity of the implementing agency directly related to the quality of service delivery?
  3. Will deeper integration of service provision between different agencies involved in implementation lead to better quality of implementation?
  4. Will more disenfranchised (poorer and living in remote or rural geographies) populations receive worse quality of implementation?

Bolsa Familia (BF) is a conditional cash transfer programme introduced in 2003 in Brazil. This report aims to understand the principal agent problem in BF. We do this by running three generalised linear models to find associations between contextual factors such as capacity of agents against outcome measures related to the quality of the provision of services such as the quality of registries. Our findings suggest that those implementing services must have a clear incentive in the programme either through the provision of support under the programme or through the accountability process. Smaller municipalities and those with poorer constituencies tend to have more accurate registries. Health and education services seem to have less incentive to operate in BF as they have no electoral incentive or receive support under BF. Finally, our models show that more integration between BF and health and education services is associated with better reported implementation.

Key Findings

  • Those implementing services must have a clear incentive in the programme either through the provision of direct support to them under the programme or through being held to account.
  • The capacity of the implementing agency is not directly associated with the quality of implementation. In some cases, small may be better.
  • Deeper integration between Bolsa Familia and health and education services is associated with better reported implementation.
  • More disenfranchised (poorer and living in remote or rural geographies) populations are generally enrolled successfully in Bolsa Familia but generally receive worse education and health services.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Data

  • Chapter Three

    Approach

  • Chapter Four

    Findings

  • Chapter Five

    Limitations

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusion

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was supported by the UK Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID) and conducted by RAND Europe.

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