My work is on a social program in Argentina called, Asignación Universal por Hijo para la Protección Social (AUH), a conditional cash transfer (CCT) implemented by presidential decree in late 2009. Under the program, the government uses a portion of income tax and sales tax to provide monthly transfers to poor families that are unemployed, informally employed, or who do domestic work and make less than a livable wage. Families receive $160 pesos (roughly $40 USD) per child ages 0-18, for up to five children. The money is given directly to the mother each month and is received under the condition that the family verifies children’s school attendance and medical checkups. It is designed to incentivize education for the poor population and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty via human capital accumulation.
In addition to drastic inequality and high rates of poverty, Argentina has a high rate of domestic violence. My work is focusing on whether transferring the money directly to mothers is empowering to women by giving them more financial control, helping them leave abusive homes, etc. or limits female agency by reenforcing traditional gender roles and providing a point of contention between a husband and wife regarding household finances. If there are negative consequences associated with the distribution system of the grant, a change in the structure of the policy could reduce domestic violence and save the lives of women. If the current system empowers women, there could be good reason to continue and expand the program. It could also incentivize collaborative work on finding additional funding sources. Continue reading