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Relationship Dynamics in Social Service Delivery: A Look at the Oportunidades/Progresa Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Mexico

Author:

Alev Kayagil

London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
About Alev

Master of Science in Development Studies, Class of 2018

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Abstract

Conditional cash transfers have received considerable attention in policy environments of developing countries since the early 1990s as tools of poverty reduction. Mexico’s Progresa/Oportunidades, one of the most popular conditional-cash transfer (CCT) programs in the world, is an important case for understanding the impact and effect of government social policy programs on low-income groups. This study highlights the limits of government interventions in providing social services by analysing the relationship dynamics between citizens, policy makers and frontline service providers

This study assesses the dynamic relationships involved in the delivery and implementation of Mexico’s CCT. It identifies challenges in program evaluation, implementation and quality of services. An extrinsic and intrinsic evaluation of the challenges in this CCT ascertains two points: i) that poverty reduction does not occur homogenously and ii) that there are variations in capacity and quality of service delivery across Mexico. These results are due to power asymmetries between beneficiaries and service providers where dependent individuals heavily rely on government support, who in turn lay responsibility on beneficiaries to access and use public services. These power asymmetries arise from the specific knowledge frontline service providers possesses regarding the type of service they deliver as well as true motivations in carrying out responsibilities. These have an impact on the real impact of the CCT and its ability to change overall poverty level.

The expansion of Progresa/Oportunidades has led to service delivery inefficiencies where addition of services and extension of responsibilities has shifted accountability structures. This has affected the degree of monitoring and evaluation of the real impact of Progresa/Oportunidades as the number of service providers and beneficiaries has expanded, introducing information and power asymmetries that affect the quality and access to services. The expansion has also significantly affected the program’s ability to target the poorest communities, leading to negative and indirect social and economic consequences. To enhance effectiveness of the program, this paper recommends including a centralized monitoring system with a monetary and non-monetary incentive structure which could involve the participation of civil society groups to monitor service delivery and communicate challenges and constraints through collective action.

How to Cite: Kayagil, A., 2019. Relationship Dynamics in Social Service Delivery: A Look at the Oportunidades/Progresa Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Mexico. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 7(1), pp.145–164.
Published on 01 Jan 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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