PROGRESA and its impacts on the human capital and welfare of households in rural Mexico

a synthesis of the results of an evaluation by IFPRI

Emmanuel Skoufias

In early 1998, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) was asked to assist the PROGRESA administration to “determine if PROGRESA is functioning in practice as it is intended to by design.” PROGRESA is one of the major programs of the Mexican government aimed at developing the human capital of poor households. Targeting its benefits directly to the population in extreme poverty in rural areas, it aims to alleviate current poverty through monetary and in-kind benefits, as well as reduce future levels of poverty by encouraging investments in education, health and nutrition. This document synthesizes the findings contained in a series of reports prepared by IFPRI for PROGRESA between November 1998 and November 2000. A more detailed description of the research, rationale and methods appears in the list of supporting documents from which this document has been derived. The evaluation is based on data collected from seven states that were among the first states to receive PROGRESA, including Guerrero, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Puebla, Querétero, San Luis Potosi, and Veracruz. A total of 24,000 households from 506 localities in these states were interviewed periodically between November 1997 and November 1999. Focus groups and workshops with beneficiaries, local leaders, PROGRESA officials, health clinic workers, and schoolteachers were also carried out. This report offers some key highlights beginning to emerge from this study related to the impact of PROGRESA on its target group, Mexico’s rural poor.