CCTs arguably constitute the most evaluated social programmes of recent years. Academic literature based on quantitative research has already highlighted the positive short-term effects on consumption levels, school attendance and health indicators, whilst qualitative research has underscored adverse effects of conditionality and targeting. Nonetheless, there are still crucial areas where research on CCTs – and, therefore, our knowledge – is lacking. Largely based on primary data from recent studies and utilising a variety of methodological approaches, the articles included in the themed section analyse the long-term effects of CCTs and their potential to break with the intergenerational transmission of poverty; their impact on the distribution of welfare responsibilities between the domains of public policy, market and family; their consequences for the social inclusion of beneficiaries; and the influence that the public official–recipient relation has upon the wellbeing of benefited families. Articles include two cross-national analyses and four case studies, covering the two oldest programmes of Brazil and Mexico – the largest countries in the region – and two programmes recently implemented in Bolivia and Peru – two countries that traditionally recorded low levels of economic and human development.