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Prospera is a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program aimed at improving the income and welfare of Mexican families living in poverty. The program was launched in 1997 under the name Progresa and was rebranded as Oportunidades in 2002. In 2014, it officially became known as the Prospera Social Inclusion Program.

Prospera’s goal is to contribute to the empowerment of the poor through actions that improve their health, nutrition, education and access to other dimensions of welfare. The program’s mission is to improve the income and welfare of families living in poverty.

More specifically, the program has four components : (1) cash support to help families eat an adequate, more varied diet; (2) health promotion to prevent disease and improve access to health services; (3) incentives to encourage student retention and grade progression; and (4) a linkage component aimed at coordinating the supply of programs that promote the productive, labor, financial, and social inclusion of beneficiaries.

At the close of fiscal year 2014, Prospera served 6,129,125 families, and the budget allocated to the program for fiscal year 2015 was 75 billion pesos (US$4.53 billion), equivalent to 0.4% of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014.

The program’s core operations and management fall to the National Coordination Office, a decentralized body of the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL), which liaisons with other government entities.




Prospera’s target population is composed of households with an estimated per capita income below the adjusted poverty line (LBMa), whose socioeconomic and income conditions hinder the development of family members’ potential in terms of nutrition, health and education.


To identify families eligible to participate in Prospera, a two-stage targeting process—geographic targeting followed by a proxy means test (PMT)—is performed each year.

IIn the first stage, the program selects and prioritizes the localities that will be visited to identify potential beneficiaries. These actions are carried out based on factors such as whether or not the program has a local presence, the magnitude of citizen demand, the number of households registered in the Development Targeting System, the Social Gap Index, and the Marginalization Index. In addition, the program takes into consideration the strategies and goals established by the government, the available budget, and the capacity to provide local health and education services

In the second stage, household targeting is performed using a PMT and an instrument called the Household Survey of Socioeconomic and Demographic Characteristics (ENCASEH) to collect the necessary socioeconomic information. Prior to data collection, the program notifies the community about the process to be conducted. In rural areas not covered by Prospera and urban areas not covered by Prospera with a poverty rate of more than 40%, a poverty census is performed during which all homes are visited to administer the ENCASEH. Failing that, a beneficiary services desk is set up to assist potential beneficiaries with the application process. To save resources, instead of administering the ENCASEH to all applicants, a shorter instrument called the Single Socioeconomic Information Questionnaire (CUIS) is used. An algorithm then identifies those who are likely to be eligible for the program, and program staff administer the ENCASEH to them in the home.

The ENCASEH is administered using a mobile device with an application that uploads information to a central database, thereby streamlining the interview process and allowing interviewees’ responses to be verified. It also allows fieldworkers to immediately inform the family of its eligibility status; however, to avoid potential problems, the program decided to discontinue this practice. A unique household identifier is generated at the time of survey administration.

The PMT uses a log-linear regression model by type of locality (urban or rural), which was calibrated using the 2008 ENIGH household survey. The estimated income from the PMT is compared to the minimum poverty line established by National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) to determine insufficient levels of income.


Individuals deemed eligible for the program are identified as potential beneficiaries, and their socioeconomic information is added to the Institutional Information System for Program Operation (SIIOP). Based on the list of potential beneficiaries, the program then develops a plan to incorporate eligible families. The pace at which families are enrolled in Prospera depends on the following: the ability to provide education and health services in their locality, the available budget, and the number of slots that open up as the result of families exiting the program. The enrollment plan gives priority to households with children under the age of 22 and women of childbearing age.

An orientation session is organized to enroll new beneficiaries in the program. Prior to the session, program staff designate the head of household, a status usually held by the mother. This step is necessary to be able to prepare personalized materials and—in some cases—the payment method (bank card) that will be provided during the session. The session is organized in cooperation with local authorities, and, in areas where there is a large indigenous population, the program works to provide either staff members who speak the indigenous language or interpreters. The program’s state delegation calls on families to participate and informs them of the session at least two days in advance.

During the event, the head of household must show proof of identity and affirm his or her decision to participate in the program. This consent is recorded in the form of a notice of enrollment. The head of household then receives an enrollment kit containing important forms (e.g., health clinic registration and school enrollment forms) and the payment method (bank card). In addition, an information session is held to explain how the program operates, and Community Promotion Councils are established.


The recertification of program beneficiaries uses both the PMT and the ENCASEH to measure socioeconomic conditions. Recertification is carried out at the local level, with localities selected on the basis of the Social Gap Index. Each locality is expected to undergo recertification every eight years.

When the recertification process verifies that household income remains below the eligibility threshold (LBMa), the family continues its participation in the program. If the family’s income exceeds the eligibility threshold but falls below the Ongoing Verification of Conditions Line (LVPCS), the household enters a Differentiated Support Scheme (EDA), a transition period during which the family receives reduced support. The length of participation in the EDA depends on how many years are left before the children finish school and the women are no longer of reproductive age. If the family’s income exceeds the LVPCS, the household immediately exits the program.

Exit criteria

Financial support for families may be suspended for administrative reasons or for non-compliance with co-responsibilities or eligibility criteria. Depending on the specific reason, payments may be suspended, in whole or in part, on a temporary or permanent basis.

Regardless of the reason, program staff deliver a notice of suspension to the head of household, indicating the reason and legal basis for the suspension, as well as the procedure and deadlines to request a reinstatement of benefits, if applicable.

Families whose benefits have been suspended or terminated may request a reinstatement of support using the Beneficiary Services Form, with the exception of cases due to the death of the sole beneficiary or fraud.



Prospera beneficiaries generally receive a cash transfer every two months, with the exception of the one-time Jóvenes con Prospera benefit that is awarded to youth upon completion of upper secondary education.

Prosperaemploys various cash transfer schemes to accommodate the needs of both rural and urban areas, occasionally using certain variations to assess the impacts of different incentives. For example, a pilot was conducted in urban areas to evaluate whether withdrawing support in the early years of primary school while providing greater support in lower and upper secondary school improved grade progression.

The amount of support a family receives depends on the types of co-responsibilities they must fulfill. If all family members comply with health co-responsibilities, then they receive a fixed amount per family. In contrast, education benefit amounts depend on the number of children and adolescents attending school. Furthermore, the benefit amount increases as the child progresses through school and is higher for female students. The maximum benefit amount for a household with children in primary and/or lower secondary school is $1,825 pesos per month, while a household with children in upper secondary school may receive up to $2,945 pesos per month. Families may also receive additional benefits for older adults.

All cash benefit amounts were updated twice yearly based on indices tied to rural and urban poverty thresholds, taking into consideration the available budget.

Payment mechanisms

Prosperauses a 1-2-3 calendar to organize the activities of the co-responsibility cycle: compliance, verification and payment. The process takes a total of 3 two-month periods, meaning that the payment reflects the family’s compliance four months (2 two-month periods) ago. Each two-month period ushers in a new cycle. During the first two-month period, families fulfill co-responsibilities, and schools and health centers record attendance. During the second period, schools and health centers report attendance information to Prospera. The program then enters the data in SIIOP and calculates the benefit amount to be paid to each family. Lastly, in the third two-month period, Prospera asks the Treasury Department to transfer resources to BANSEFI, the institution responsible for making payments to families. Payments are made to a bank account in the name of the beneficiary.

In addition, the program has a line of action focused on promoting financial inclusion. The Comprehensive Financial Inclusion Program (PROIIF) seeks to provide beneficiaries with access to financial education and financial products and services designed just for them, such as access to free accidental death insurance, automatic savings plans, basic and supplemental loans, as well as additional low-cost benefits.

A significant challenge in terms of improving the payment process is the availability of payment points where beneficiaries can use their bank cards to make purchases or withdrawal money at ATMs or businesses (in the form of cash back). Due to the lack of payment points, most payments (80%) are made in cash at bank branches, Diconsa stores, or temporary payment points. In these cases, beneficiaries swipe their bank card and scan their fingerprint in a reader to verify their identity. Beneficiaries then receive the full transfer amount in an envelope.



As a general rule, the state delegations of Prospera print the certification forms and send them to state health and education sectors. These sectors, in turn, distribute the forms to schools and health centers so that they can document compliance. Subsequently, the sectoral entities receive the completed forms and return them to the state delegation, which enters the data in the information system. That being said, an increasing proportion of this process is performed electronically; more than half of health co-responsibilities, about a quarter of primary school attendance, a third of lower secondary school attendance, and the totality of upper secondary school attendance are verified electronically.

The verification process kicks off with the crucial step in which new beneficiary households are given the enrollment kit containing the forms needed to register their children with the school and health center they will regularly attend.


Health co-responsibilities include health center registration, attendance by all members of the household at scheduled health appointments, and participation in self-care workshops. Unlike most programs in which health co-responsibilities apply only to young children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, in the case of Prospera, all household members have health co-responsibilities.

To begin complying with co-responsibilities, families must register at a health center using a form known as the Certification of Health Center Registration (S1 CRUS), which they receive in the enrollment kit. Health care personnel verify that each family member has a National Health Record. The CRUS section of the signed and stamped form is then returned to the head of household, who presents it to Prospera staff as proof that the family has registered.

At the time of registration, the head of household receives a document with the dates of the check-ups and self-care training workshops that must be attended by each family member. In addition, upper secondary school students are given a Health Sessions Attendance Booklet, in which health care personnel certify young people’s attendance at workshops. The scheduling of health check-ups depends on the individual’s age, gender and any special conditions, such as pregnancy or postpartum. Health services currently operate under one of two models of care—rural or urban. In the rural model, the certification of co-responsibilities is conducted on a monthly basis, while in the urban model, it is performed on a bimonthly basis.


Education co-responsibilities include school enrollment of children and youth up to age 21 and support to ensure that they regularly attend class. In order to comply with education co-responsibilities, the student beneficiary may have no more than three unexcused absences per month. If the student accumulates three months of school suspension or 12 unexcused absences in the same school year, his or her education benefits are suspended for the remainder of the year.

In the case of upper secondary school, cash support given in the last month of the school year (July) is commensurate with the number of self-care training workshops attended by the student.