The Reach Project is an initiative by the Munk School of Global Affairs and the MasterCard Center focused on researching the delivery of social services in the hardest to reach populations in the global south.

Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) & Canadian Embassy, Brasilia

Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) & Canadian Embassy, Brasilia

This blog was originally published in December 2015 by Ariel Sim, a researcher for the Bolsa Familia Project. You can read more from her at her blog here.


Lesson: One thing is always part of a bigger whole. It's not enough to open your eyes. To understand, look up down, left and right. 

Dr. Joe Wong takes an interview for IPEA media about our research team and his interest in Bolsa Familia (Photo Credit: A Sim)

Dr. Joe Wong takes an interview for IPEA media about our research team and his interest in Bolsa Familia (Photo Credit: A Sim)

IPEA presents on the complexities of  Brazil's social protection system (Photo Credit: A Sim)

IPEA presents on the complexities of  Brazil's social protection system (Photo Credit: A Sim)

Second day in Brasilia and it was equally packed with expert meetings and knowledge sharing. Today, we had the pleasure of going to the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) to talk about the larger suite of social protection programs in Brazil and the evolution of social security. When we first arrived, Dr. Joe Wong conducted a brief interview for IPEA's media team on our team's research and his interest in the Bolsa Familia Program. 

We then jumped into the meat of the day. To start, Dr. Wong spoke about social protection in Asia and our team presented what (we think) we know, what (we know) we don't know, and what we would like to find out. Each individual on our team takes their own approach and framework to the social protection question, based on their speciality. What I find interesting is that the same type of specialization and diversity exists on the MDS and IPEA teams. From health, to social rights, to technology, to finance, to partnerships, to systems design, the conversation becomes very rich when each person can nurture a small part of the argument and incrementally move it forward. 

Our presentation was followed by a series of presentations by the IPEA expert team about social protections in Brazil and the larger suite of social programming under which the Bolsa Familia Program operates. At the point of democratization in 1988, Brazil's bizmarkian social insurance program (an employer-based system) evolved into social security (a universal care system sponsored by the state). Within the constitution of 1988, social rights including the right to food and right to housing were codified into Brazilian law. This is an important ideological grounding for the implementation of 'deep reach' social programs that target the extreme poor, especially since people under a certain income level do not contribute to social insurance. IPEA presented an interesting framework to understand the four types of social benefits in Brazil. It is a 2x2 matrix. The first quadrant is contributory and passive. It includes old age and disability pensions. The second quadrant is non-contributory and passive. It includes benefits through social assistance. The third quadrant is contributory and passive. It includes unemployment security. The final quadrant is non-contributory and active. This is where Bolsa Familia falls. 

It is always very special to share food, but it's especially therapeutic after intense discussion. Hosted at the Embassy of Canada, our team, MDS and IPEA all shared a meal. Accompanied by warm weather and warm company, a fitting close to our sessions in Brazil's capital city. Now, as we prepare for the team to split into two groups, one to Belo Horizonte and one to Salvador, we feel as though we are leaving not only inspiring confidantes, but friends in Brasilia. What lies ahead is a deep dive into the municipal implementation of the Bolsa Familia Program. A closer look at the nuts and bolts of everyday life under BFP and a taste of the local flavors the program takes.


Photo Credit: A Sim

Bahia Superintendency of Social Assistance (SAS) & Salvador Municipal Secretariat of Social Promotion and Poverty Alleviation

Bahia Superintendency of Social Assistance (SAS) & Salvador Municipal Secretariat of Social Promotion and Poverty Alleviation

Ministry of Social Development, Brasilia

Ministry of Social Development, Brasilia