Gerardo J Arriaga Garcia

The current crisis of development. Rethinking social policy in Mexico


Simon Pemberton and Lee GregoryGerardo Arriaga Garcia, Doctoral Researcher

Currently there is a paradox between the Mexican government’s policies to fight poverty and the increasing number of people living under the line of poverty. In fact, the Mexican government has allocated over 169 billion US dollars to fight poverty in the past 17 years (SEGOB, 2014). Nevertheless, the number of people living under the line of poverty increased in one million in the past two years and it just reached 60.6 million people, which represents over half of the population (CONEVAL, 2014).

In recent years, several authors, governments and international organizations have argued that conditional cash transfer programs (CCT) are paramount for the reduction of poverty. “Oportunidades” is the largest anti-poverty programme in Mexico. It was implemented in 1997 and in 2014 it allocated 4.8 million dollars beneficiating over 6.1 million families (SEDESOL, 2014) Several studies suggest that the Mexican programme “Oportunidades” has reduced poverty across the country (Behrman & Skoufias, 2006; Neufeld et al., 2011; Skoufias et al., 1999; Skoufias & McClafferty, 2001).

Nevertheless, there is a growing literature regarding the limitations and potential harmful consequences of such programs on the lives of people (Villarespe, 2008; de la Vega, 2010) Nevertheless, the study of its implications on people’s experiences has remained largely obscured by mainstream approaches. Those implications include violation of human rights, increasing vulnerability, disempowerment of women and emotional distress. All of them together have serious and harmful consequence on the long-term development of families.

The relationship between the current development approach to fight poverty and social policy is still a pending topic. Furthermore, there is little to no research regarding the relationship of the current social policy put in place in Mexico, the neo-liberal agenda and the consequences of that relationship on people.

My current research focuses on those tensions in order to fill the gaps.


Granados-Sanchez, J., Wals, A., Ferrer-Balas, D., Waas, T., Imaz, M., Nortier, S., Svanstrom, M. and Arriaga, G. (2012) Sustainability in Higher Educatio: Moving from Understanding to Action, Breaking Barriers for Transformation. Higher Education in the World IV. Education’s Commitment to Sustainability: from Understanding to Action IV. London: Palgrave-MacMIllan.

SEGOB. (2014) Programa Integral para Prevenir, Atender, Sancionar y Erradicar la Violencia contra las Mujeres 2014-2016. Mexico. Diario Oficial de la Federacion (DOF).

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