Behavior of Programa Bolsa Família Beneficiaries: A Behavior Analytic Perspective on Fulfillment of Education and Health Conditionalities

Virginia Maria Dalfior Fava, Laercia Abreu Vasconcelos


From a Behavior Analysis perspective, this paper identifies the metacontingencies established by the Programa Bolsa Família legislation that focus on the fulfillment of education and health conditionalities by its beneficiaries. The Programa Bolsa Familia is a conditional cash transfer program, analyzed here as an intervention for an inefficient cultural practice. This cultural practice constitutes interlocked contingencies that hinder school attendance and nutrition of poor and extremely poor children, who turn into adults unprepared for the labor market, perpetuating a cycle of poverty throughout generations. Analysis of the Programa Bolsa Família legislation enabled us to find two main types of metacontingencies: 1) one for behavioral change of members of the beneficiary families; and 2) another for managing the education and health requirements, from a chain of behaviors emitted by public workers of three government levels – municipal, state, and federal. The direct interaction of Programa Bolsa Família with education and health policies – because of the conditionalities on beneficiaries –, as well as the indirect interaction with policies for generating work and income, allow to conclude that other variables must be considered to guarantee selection of a new and more efficient cultural practice in order to break the poverty cycle throughout generations.


evaluation of public policies, metacontingencies, conditional cash transfer program, Programa Bolsa Família

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And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility