Analysis Of Bolsa Familia Springs From A Long Tradition Of Welfare And Development

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Bolsa Familia springs from a long tradition of welfare and development strategies in Latin America. Economic and social development are of central concern to governments and development agencies worldwide due to their direct link to equality. This can be explained through the well-defined link between income levels and health, education and nutritional outcomes, emphasizing the importance of addressing inequality in order to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Thus, reducing inequality is central to the success of policy initiatives, as the Bolsa Familia’s strong focus on developing human capital is what makes it a ‘poverty reduction program rather than a social assistance one’ (Fitzbein et al, 2009: 11). Targeting development…show more content…
Figure 1: Social security, health, and education expenditure in Brazil Source: Haggard and Kaufmann, 2008: 388. Welfare can be defined as the minimum level of responsibility of the state for its citizens – this is what I will attribute to ‘social security’ in Figure one. Welfare can be in the form of a steady base transfer, in order to provide ongoing, or short term payments to alleviate financial hardship. In contrast, human capital accumulation (HCA) can be attributed to investments in ‘education’ and ‘health’ (Figure 1). HCA is the increased education, health and productivity of potential workers, to which ‘social security’ is only a precondition. It is a central driver of human and economic development. Thus, Bolsa Familia’s conditionality is what distinguishes it from a welfare scheme to a poverty assistance scheme. Furthermore, the conditionality aspect of cash transfers is what assures requirements regarding human capital accumulation will be met. CCTs are a site of convergence of international and statist development policy initiatives, which are played out at the community level by administrators and agents on the ground. Thus, Bolsa Familia is led by governments, endorsed by the World Bank, and implemented by local authorities. CCTs are seen as ‘an alternative to more traditional and paternalistic approaches to social assistance’ (de la Briere and Rawlings, 2006: 6). It is this level of decentralisation which contributes to their appeal on both the

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