"Oportunidades" and "Bolsa Familia": a comparative perspective of their evolution

Fábio Veras Soares

Soares (2012) argues that differences in the original design of Oportunidades and Bolsa Família as well as the distinct role these programmes play in the broader social protection systems of México and Brazil respectively are key in helping illuminate the nature of the incremental changes that both programmes have experienced over the years.

Whereas the design of Mexico’s Oportunidades Programme was based on direct demands on the part of the national government and used small pilots to test the proposed design’s parameters, the roots of CCTs in Brazil can be traced to municipal-level experiences stretching back to 1995, each of which were critical to the eventual design of the national-level programmes. Brazil’s Federal Government only accepted the idea of national CCTs after a long debate involving both Congress and civil society. In fact, it was only in 2003, in Lula’s first term as President, that the decision was finally taken to implement a large national programme— Bolsa Família—constituting a consolidation of all CCT programmes to that point administered by different ministries.

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