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Conditional cash transfer programs have recently spread throughout Latin America, and early findings suggest their potential to overcome poverty and create human capital. This review undertakes an assessment of CCT programs and the conventional theory that has evolved to justify them. It concludes that successes to date are limited, with positive effects on schooling and some aspects of health and nutrition in poor households, but weak effects on alleviating poverty in the short term and uncertain effects on educational aspects of human capital formation and poverty reduction in the long term. In a broader and more comprehensive view of social policy, as opposed to a minimalist focus, the key issue is how to integrate CCT programs with other social programs to overcome traditional patterns of segmentation in Latin America and thereby cultivate citizenship.