Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brazilian Family Grant makes a difference

It was refreshing to the read article in the NYtimes blog Opinionator that showed a bright side to Rio de Janeiro/Brazil and it's poverty. 

Let's be honest, the media has been quite nit picky about Rio de Janeiro ever since it got the Olympic bid.  Sure, we had a little issue a couple months ago that was quite dramatic and upsetting. Yes, we have some stuff to work on. But really, it was good to see a pause in the Debbie Downers. 

Brazil has a lot of poverty but people are trying to do something about it. Could they do more? Of course they could. But when couldn't people do more. 

Bolsa Familia is something I really support. For those of you who don't want to read the article (but you should because it is a good read), bolsa familia is basically the government giving out some money to the poor.

Before you go and get all 'teach a man to fish' on me, give me a minute.  We are talking really poor families here.  And this program is not handing over bundles of money or anything.  It's more or less $40 per family per month, plus an addition $16 or so for kids under 16 in school. 

This is nothing you say.  Well, every little bit helps and it's very true in this situation.  Add to it that, to get this money, the family must get regular medical check ups and their kids have to go to school.  I bet you see the sneaky plan now, don't ya!

They are breaking the cycle here! Or trying to anyway.  Kids are staying in school longer and people are learning about better nutrition.  My only suggestion is that they offer an additional $10 for each year a child stays in school after middle school.  Give that extra incentive to get the kids through high school. 

I bet a bunch of you out there have a thought or two on this one. I have heard that politicians do this to buy elections. I really don't care why if people are getting some help.  And I'm sure that some of you will consider me naive.  Am I ?  What are your thoughts on the program?


  1. Rachel,

    This is a great article. Thanks for sharing.
    I think "Bolsa familia" is great for Brazil. After the program started the consumption of common things such as tooth paste, soap, chocolate, pasta, canned goods increased so much in the Northeast and Northern parts of Brazil that Nestle, Colgate and many other factories had to build new factories in those regions and created many jobs which also help reduce poverty in these poor regions...
    It is a healthy cycle of wealth distribution. Middle class Brazilians in the South pay a hefty tax weight but the results of the reduction of poverty are crystal clear and totally worth it in my opinion.
    Hey! Someone has to pay for it! What it matters is that the money is going where it's supposed to go and the needed are benefiting from it.


  2. Excellent article. Now if only the brain dead Republicans in the US would be open to such strategies...

  3. Glad you posted this, I saw it this morning too. The research on the impact of Bolsa Familia is really convincing and very thorough. Although it continues to amaze me how often I hear that Bolsa Familia is an incentive for people not to work.

  4. I think bolsa familia is great...... but it's not enough. Education investment is required to really make bolsa familia change poberty (I also have a different meaning of education in mind). While people can buy toothpaste and other basics, I think many Brazilians can't see the effects and cry or get upset about the program. Most of my 60 students are against bolsa familia.

    Which is kind of funny with how money is spent in Brazil (politicians and their crazy high pay is one example.)

    How is 14 dollars per person going to change poverty cycles? It does, I think it's a great start. But a start. I am not talking about the addictive welfare cycle in the states. I hope Brazil makes their own programs and ways, looking at the mistakes already made by other countries. But it's definitely not enough, the circle of poverty in Brazil is intense.

    I think the poor and working class should ask for more and be empowered to do so. After all Brazil does have "more" right now and I think it's team to spread it to citizens. After all like Ray said, it makes great economic growth too!

  5. Nina said exactly what I was gonna say, and better than I could have. So I second Nina!

  6. I do think the salaries for politicians are crazy!! I think if they stole a little less as well, they could help a lot more people. Hell, I'd just be happy with fixed roads!

    Even though it's not enough, I do think it starts the breaking of the cycle because it encourages education. Now they need to get in there and make sure that people are getting a good education in the public schools. They also need to offer trade programs and free vestibular practice classes for lower income students.