Learning spillovers in conditional welfare programs: evidence from Brazil

Fernanda Brollo; Katja Kaufmann; Eliana La Ferrara

We study spillovers in learning about the enforcement of Bolsa Familia, a program conditioning benefits on children's school attendance. Using original administrative data, we find that individuals' compliance responds to penalties incurred by their classmates and by siblings' classmates (in other grades/schools). As the severity of penalties increases with repeated noncompliance, the response is larger when peers are punished for "higher stages" than the family's, consistent with learning. Individuals also respond to penalties experienced by neighbours who are exogenously scheduled to receive notices on the same day. Our results point to social multiplier effects of enforcement via learning.