The transition from school to work among Chile Solidario and Oportunidades beneficiaries
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Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs aim to reduce the inter-generational reproduction of poverty through human capital investment. By 2010, most Latin American countries offered these programs covering almost one fifth of the regional population. CCTs have remained in spite of government changes, economic crises and growth. However, long-term impact evaluations are not encouraging. CCTs have not promoted the completion of high school (the minimal level to obtain a salary above the poverty line), neither labor market mobility among youth. Therefore, CCTs are not achieving their long term goal. In order to shed light on the aspects that explain this failure, my study explores the structural limitations that long-term CCT beneficiaries face in the transition from school to work, a crucial phase in the transition to adulthood and, therefore, in the reproduction of poverty. I analyze two emblematic CCTs in the region: Chile Solidario (Chile) and Oportunidades (Mexico). While Oportunidades is a pioneer CCT and is strictly focused on human capital investment (without connection with the labor market), Chile Solidario is the regional CCT that offers more connections with social programs, especially employment. With an exploratory-descriptive approach, I apply mixed-methods. I analyze CCTs surveys (Panel Chile Solidario for Chile and ENCELURB for Mexico) and in-depth interviews with long-term young beneficiaries and their mothers (cash recipients), from an assets and vulnerability framework. The dissertation sheds light on the heterogeneous characteristics of long-term beneficiaries and the variables that contribute the most to youth's transition from school to work. It also accounts for the main challenges faced by these policies to succeed: lack of local educational and employment opportunities, as well as lack of efficient connections between scholarships' worth, training programs and grants with beneficiaries' needs and situation.