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Parker on Mexico's redirection of Conditional Cash Transfer program

The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program has proven to be a successful aid to reduce poverty.

Benjamin Russell writing for Americas Quarterly comments on Mexico’s newly elected president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador’s changes to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program called Prospera. President Lopez Obrador has decided to redirect Prospera’s budget to a new scholarship program called Becas Benito Juárez as a mean to provide access to basic education and scholarships for high school and university studies to vulnerable families.  

The government’s analysis that CCTs have failed to reduce poverty is incomplete: Lopez Obrador has pointed that high poverty rates are a proof of the CCT program failure. However, studies prove that Prospera has helped reduce both extreme poverty and the severity of families’ needs. Proponents of the CCTs claim that incentives for health care and nutrition help break the inter-generational cycle of poverty and numbers show that Prospera beneficiaries were 37 percent more likely to find a job than their counterparts who were not exposed to a CCT program.

Faculty Associate Susan Parker who has studied CCT programs commented, “On health and a huge number of other outcomes … there are hundreds of studies and the overwhelming majority are positive. . . . I wonder if the administration has looked at the evidence at all” she said. Lopez Obrador’s decision to change one of the most replicated social programs instead of making room to improve it has been criticized. “The normal thing would be to do a pilot, and check to see what happens without conditions,” said Parker. “As is, these changes are not based on the government saying, ‘We’ve done a careful diagnostic of the program’s limitations and we’re going to try to remedy them' ,’” Dr. Parker concluded.  

See the complete Americas Quarterly article