There is a simple idea that is working to reduce poverty rates and increase education and health rates in Brazil. This program provides cash transfers, though small, to families if they meet the requirements of the program. It is a carrot-stick model that works. Results alone are amazing, consider these paragraphs in a New York Times op-ed about the program:
Today, however, Brazil’s level of economic inequality is dropping at a faster rate than that of almost any other country. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent.
Contrast this with the United States, where from 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent of earners. (see this great series in Slate by Timothy Noah on American inequality) Productivity among low and middle-income American workers increased, but their incomes did not. If current trends continue, the United States may soon be more unequal than Brazil.
I would read the whole piece because it is so simple, yet it does have results.