ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mexico's Targeted and Conditional Transfers: Between Oportunidades and Rights

Oportunidades, Mexico's conditional cash transfer programme, which is linked to the education of children of a certain age and provision of health services, is often described as an outstanding success. In 2011 it will cover 5.8 million families. But Oportunidades warrants a critical analysis for its "conditions" deny any autonomy to the poor and the scheme is based on a system of rewards and punishment which assumes that the poor do not know what they want. Its record in reducing income poverty has also been limited. More can be learnt from recent modifications that cover the hitherto excluded, the very young children and the senior citizens. However, it is new proposals of a basic income transfer - universal, to individuals and without conditions - that hold out more promise.

S ince the 1980s there has been a profound change in Latin America not only in the characteristics of the regime of accumulation but also in the social regime. That is, both economic and social policy are being transformed. In a way, the turn towards pro-market policies has corresponded with a turn towards targeted and conditional cash transfer programmes (TCCTP) in social policy.

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