Progress Against Poverty

Progress Against Poverty: Sustaining Mexico's Progresa-Oportunidades Program

Santiago Levy
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 166
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  • Book Info
    Progress Against Poverty
    Book Description:

    In 1997, Mexico launched a new incentive-based poverty reduction program to enhance the human capital of those living in extreme poverty. This book presents a case study of Progresa-Oportunidades, focusing on the main factors that have contributed to the program's sustainability, policies that have allowed it to operate at the national level, and future challenges.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-5222-6
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    James D. Wolfensohn

    When I became president of the World Bank in 1995, I was determined to put the goal of global poverty reduction at the front and center of the mission of the institution, which I was to lead for ten years. With more than one billion people living in abject poverty on less than one dollar a day, I felt strongly that the international community had to focus its attention much more squarely on reducing the plight of the poor—and on the extraordinary contribution that they can make to create a better world. I was convinced that to achieve the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-3)

    In 1997 Mexico launched a new incentive-based poverty reduction program, initially known as Progresa and now as Oportunidades, to enhance the human capital of those living in extreme poverty. The program started under the administration of President Ernesto Zedillo, with initial coverage of 300,000 families in 6,344 localities in twelve states and a budget of US$58.8 million (see tables 2–1 and 2–5 in chapter 2).¹

    At that time, Progresa-Oportunidades was a novel initiative, inasmuch as it

    —sought to substitute cash income transfers for income transfers in the form of targeted or generalized food subsidies (through price discounts, price...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Program Background
    (pp. 4-20)

    Mexico, like many other developing countries, has made a determined effort over many decades to combat poverty and reduce income inequality. From the human capital perspective, that effort has been evident principally in programs to improve the food consumption, health status, and education of the poor.¹

    Despite those programs, in the mid-1990s an estimated 24 percent of all households, representing almost 30 percent of the country’s population (poor households are, on average, larger than others), lived in extreme poverty. Conditions in rural areas, where more than 50 percent of all households lived in poverty, were worse than in urban areas,...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Program Objectives and Scope
    (pp. 21-32)

    Progresa-Oportunidades seeks to break the vicious cycle of poverty in all extremely poor households, rural and urban, in Mexico. In particular, the program’s objectives are to

    —improve the health and nutritional status of poor households, particularly of their more vulnerable members: children under the age of five and pregnant and nursing women

    —contribute to children’s and young people’s completion of their primary, secondary, and high school education

    —integrate education, health, and nutrition interventions, so that children’s school performance is not affected by ill health or malnourishment or by the need to work, either inside or outside the home

    —redistribute income...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Program Results
    (pp. 33-80)

    The analytical and operational observations made in chapter 1 suggest that replacing in-kind income transfers with cash and imposing explicit conditions for receipt on beneficiary households would increase their income and human capital more effectively than had the set of programs existing in Mexico in the mid-1990s. There was, however, no empirical evidence to demonstrate that that would in fact be the case. There were programs, both in Mexico and abroad, that had tied together nutrition and food interventions or food and schooling interventions; there also were programs in which cash transfers were carried out on a large scale, even...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Program Institutional Design
    (pp. 81-130)

    Chapter 2 provided data documenting that Progresa-Oportunidades is a very large program. The results summarized in chapter 3 indicate that despite some operational problems, to date the program has been effective in reaching its initial objectives. In August 2006 the program entered its tenth year of operation, having expanded to cover practically the entire population living in extreme poverty over the course of two different federal government administrations (originating from two distinct political parties). This chapter discusses the main institutional features of the program that have facilitated this outcome. Emphasis is placed on the factors contributing to program scale-up and...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Program Perspectives
    (pp. 131-144)

    Progresa-Oportunidades faces significant future challenges. Three of them pertain to the program itself: the need for consistency and sustainability, the need for continuous evaluation, and the need for long-term institutional stability. The fourth is a different challenge, substantially overlooked so far: how to ensure that Progresa-Oportunidades fits in with other social programs so that together they provide the right incentives for poor workers to search for more productive jobs and earn higher incomes through their own efforts.

    Table 5–1 presents the age and gender distribution of all Progresa-Oportunidades beneficiaries at the close of 2005. It also identifies, in the...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions
    (pp. 145-150)

    Do poverty alleviation programs need a change of paradigm? That is too broad a question. The word “paradigm” is used here only to call attention to the fact that, at least in some cases, poverty alleviation programs that hope to have a notable and lasting impact on the poor need to incorporate into program design the elements needed to ensure scale-up, continuity, and sustainability. This book presents a case study of a particular program that has tried to do that: Mexico’s Progresa-Oportunidades. Time will reveal the extent to which that goal was achieved, and it is others who should make...

  12. References
    (pp. 151-160)
  13. Index
    (pp. 161-166)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-169)