Bolsa Familia


Bolsa Familia is a government based welfare program that serves as an incentive to send kids to school and get vaccinated. The program pays families living below the poverty line to send their children to school. This program has revolutionized Brazil’s economy and has improved the poverty rates. In addition,   it has quickly spread across the nation by  reaching more than 46 million people.

Bolsa Familia was first introduced by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2003 as one of the four pillars that constitute towards”Brazil’s  without poverty” act. More than a decade later, it has been able to transform and help the lives of millions living under the poverty line. The number of recipients receiving the Bolsa Familia has almost quadrupled in the last ten years. This program serves as a great tool to promote future capital and sustain long term education.

Prior to Bolsa Familia, families who lived below the poverty line struggled to send their children to school. In addition, these children were susceptible of dropping out of school and start working  in the labor field to help pay family expenses. Most education and professional opportunities were often unfeasible prior to the program. This created a poverty cycle across the nation that not only harmed the economy but also widened the gap between the rich and the poor.

The program has grown significantly in the last ten years; it has gone from 3.6 million recipients to more than 13 million. Bolsa Familia has proven to help millions and has even helped lower poverty rates. From 2002 till 2012 the proportion of people living under extreme poverty declined from  8.8% to 3.6%. The Bolsa Familia attributes to at least one third of this and constitutes for long term investment.  “It reaches 11 million families, more than 46 million people, a major portion of the country’s low-income population” (World Bank).

The program promotes long term education and health care. It penalizes families by cutting their bolsa or fund if the child fails to go to school and get vaccinated. R$70 or $18 get deposited into the families account in exchange for regular attendance and health check ups. The Bolsa results in “helping to reduce current poverty, and getting families to invest in their children, thus breaking the cycle of intergenerational transmission and reducing future poverty” (World Bank).

According to the social development minister, the Bolsa Familia has also proven to be effective at increasing graduation rates in poorer regions. In fact, graduation rates in these regions are higher than that average graduation rates across the nation.

While the program does not necessarily help combat adult poverty, it does help improve long term poverty by offering better opportunities for the next generations. This is an effective program because it is able to reach the poorest people in the region. According to the World Bank, ninety-four percent of the funds reach the poorest 40 percent of the population. Many of the families on the program are able to use the money for food, supplies, and other basic necessities. Because the program has succeeded so well, the same adaptations have been adopted in many other countries including Mexico, Chile, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, and many more.

The program proves to show that it is possible to integrate low income individuals into the economic pathway without compromising economic development.