Structural Heterogeneity and Poor Microenterprises in Argentina
Marta Bekerman and Cecilia Rikap
National government programs ( ...continuation )

Year after year, the deadline for this program has been modified. To reduce its influence, two other programs with different objectives were created, to which program beneficiaries could migrate voluntarily: the Families for Social Inclusion Program (Programa Familias por la Inclusión Social), promoted by the Ministry of Social Development (MDS), and the Training and Employment Insurance program (Seguro de Capacitación y Empleo-SCyE), promoted by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security (MTESS). By October 2008, the total number of beneficiaries had diminished to one and a half million people.

The Training and Employment Insurance program provides support to unemployed workers to actively seek employment, that is to say, it seeks their reinsertion to productive activities. The “Familias” national plan targets families in situation of greater vulnerability, seeking their social insertion by providing a minimum income, assistance pensions and work with adolescents and youth. In exchange for these benefits, the families have the duty to present their children's school attendance and health records. The plan also provides for scholarships of $50 a month for children and youth to continue their education (primary and secondary schooling and/or professional training). In 2010, the percentage of public spending allocated to this plan dropped due to the implementation of the Universal Child Allowance (Asignación Universal por Hijo).

Starting in 2003, other programs aimed to guarantee minimum levels of provisions were developed by the Ministry of Labor, through the unification of different policies to address problems regarding food provision in a single program entitled the National Food Security Plan (Plan Nacional de Seguridad Alimentaria). This program provides food assistance, including school and community cafeterias (which 2 million people attend), as well as support for self-sufficiency and self-production (for more than 3 million people), training, information and dissemination of good food practices.

With the creation of the Universal Child Allowance for Social Protection (AUH by its acronym in Spanish) in October 2009, Argentina took a very important step in public policy to combat poverty. This measure seeks to guarantee a minimum income for sectors in situations of informality and targets minors or people with disabilities (the latter for their entire lifetime) living with unemployed workers, unregistered workers who earn less than the adjustable minimum living wage and domestic workers. For each child (with a maximum of 5 per parent or guardian), the State awards an allowance of $180 per month; $144 are received directly and $36 are contingent upon the presentation of the minor's school and health records.

The budget for this program in 2011 rose to $10.083 millon dollars. By November 2010, allowances had been processed for almost 3.7 million children from 2 million families who receive an average of $220 a month.

According to some estimates, the AUH lifted between 1.4 and 1.8 million people from poverty, 700,000 to 1.1 million of which are children under the age of 18. Moreover, more than 1 million people abandoned their condition as indigents (Panigo et al., 2009: 27). This figure is expected to grow to 1.4 million upon program completion.