El Ágora USB (Dec 2008)

The Brazilian Bolsa Escola

  • Rachel Cassidy,
  • Dominic Rowland,
  • Valeria Ballettini,
  • Helen Coskeran

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 2
pp. 389 – 416


Read online

The Bolsa Escola (‘school stipend’) and its successor the Bolsa Familia (‘family stipend’) schemes have formed a crucial and successful part of Brazil’s welfare program. Bolsa Escola provided aid to Brazil’s poorest families on the condition that their children attended school, and Bolsa Familia has extended this idea, giving aid on the condition that children both attend school and receive vaccinations. Bolsa Familia is currently the largest Conditional Cash Transfer Program (CCTP) in the world, costing roughly 0.5% of Brazilian GDP and helping around 11.2 million families (around 44 million Brazilians, constituting roughly one fifth of the population). Multilateral institutions have praised the schemes, and they are setting a leading example to other developing nations. In 2005, Paul Wolfowitz (former president of the World Bank) said, ‘Bolsa Familia has already become a highly praised model of effective social policy. Countries around the world are drawing lessons from Brazil’s experience and are trying to produce the same results for their own people’.