Three models of social protection

For a decade or so, social funds were supposed to be present in every strategy against poverty. Modeled after Bolivia’s FSE (1986) and supported by multilateral banks, country after country set up its own local version culminating in Mexico’s Solidaridad, before they faded away. A new model has now grabbed the attention of governments and donors. In 1997, Mexico created Progresa(now Oportunidades), a program that gives cash to female heads of poor families every two months in exchange for sending their children to school, improving their diets, keeping up with their vaccination schedules and attending health clinics. The idea behind a conditioned cash transfer is that it mitigates current poverty (through the income supplement) while preventing future poverty (by creating incentives for families to invest in human capital). Oportunidades provides cash to five million families, a quarter of the population; children are said to be growing taller, healthier and staying more in school, with larger declines in dropout rates and increases in transition rates from primary to secondary school among girls due to the program’s graduated-transfer schedule.