Jan 022010

Mexico’s flagship social development program featured in a recent (29 Dec 2009) PBS Newshour segment.

Maybe they read an advance copy of Geo-Mexico (chapter 29)?

Oportunidades (Opportunities) is a government social assistance program to help families overcome poverty. Begun in 2002, it is an extension of Progresa, a program which started in 1997. Oportunidades provides conditional cash transfers every two months to families which meet specific geographic and economic criteria of poverty. The transfers only continue if family members meet a series of goals including children’s regular attendance at school and family visits to the nearest clinic for regular nutrition and health advice. Additional economic incentives are offered for the completion of each grade of school with special emphasis on ensuring that girls complete high school. The payment recipients are usually mothers, who make most child and family health decisions.
In 2008, Oportunidades managed a budget of $3.6 billion. This budget is managed very efficiently with only 4% going towards administrative expenses and on-going research. It helps 5 million families, about one-quarter of all families in Mexico. These families tend to live in the most marginal communities. Oportunidades operates in 93,000 different localities throughout the country, 86% of which are in rural areas. In Chiapas the program helps 61% of all families. The corresponding figures for two other poor states—Oaxaca and Guerrero—are 53% and 52% respectively.

Geo-Mexico goes on to evaluate the success of the program, before concluding that,

Oportunidades is one of the most-studied social programs on the planet. It has been very positively received by international agencies and is a model for similar conditioned payment programs in some 30 other countries. A pilot program called Opportunity NYC is being evaluated in New York City.

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