Daily Video

December 30, 2009

Plan to Beat Poverty With Cash for Choices

A pioneering program in Mexico is trying to fight poverty by giving small stipends of cash directly to poor mothers. The program, Oppertunidades or “Opportunities” in English, stipulates that women receiving aid keep their kids enrolled in school, take them for regular health check ups, and attend nutrition classes.

For generations, policy-makers have debated what makes poor people poor. This program aims to directly address their financial hardship, but also change the choices that they make. Observers say it is working. At least 30 countries have now adopted Oportunidades, and officials from South Africa and China have contacted Mexico to investigate.

In this video, Ray Suarez interviews a mother in the program as well as economists from the Mexican government and World Bank.


“These families were trapped in a — in some kind of an intergenerational mechanism, by which parents were poor, children were poor, and the next generation were also poor. The kids were so poor, they had to be picking coffee in the fields, and they couldn’t go to school.” Santiago Levy, Inter-American Development Bank

“If you get girls who have now been able to go to school, they are going to be not just able to get a better a job and so on, but they are going to be better at probably raising their kids. They are going to have less kids. They are going to have — take more care of them in terms of nutrition and health and prevention.” Dr. Gustavo Merino Juraez, Mexican Deputy Secretary of Social Development

“The evidence is very compelling. And on my many years of experience working in development in all regions of the world with the World Bank, I have never seen one program that receives so much interested and that has been replicated in as many countries as this model of conditional cash transfers.” Helena Ribe, The World Bank

Warm Up Questions

1.What is poverty?

2.What are some ways to fight poverty in your community?

Discussion Questions

1.Oppertunidades gives money, but it also compels people to make lifestyle changes. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?

2.Why are only women enrolled in the program? Does this make sense to you? Explain your answer.

3.With this program now being replicated in 30 countries, do you think it could work in the United States?

4.If you were offered cash to make healthier lifestyle choices would you do it? Why or why not?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

In-depth: Global Health

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