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Dec 152011

The 2010 census provides many indicators of minimal housing quality such as sanitary drainage (indoor drains and toilets), electricity, piped water, overcrowding, and dirt floors. A previous post discussed the rapid expansion of household electricity, especially in remote areas. This post focuses on the other measures of housing quality, and considers three different scales: national, state and municipality.

The national situation

All measures of minimal housing quality improved significantly between 2000 and 2010. The proportion of Mexicans living in houses without sanitary drainage went from 9.9% in 2000 all the way down to 3.6% in 2010, a decline of almost two-thirds. Those without piped water went from 11.2% to 8.6%. It is interesting that many Mexicans that have indoor toilets do not have piped water. The reason for this is that sanitary drainage needs only pipes and gravity while piped water requires pressure-holding plumbing, and pumps driven by either electric or diesel power. Those without piped water must carry water into the house either by bucket or take delivery from a pipa (water truck).

The availability of both sanitary drainage and piped water are extremely important to health, particularly infant health. When a household has piped water, it uses far more water for bathing and mopping, as well as for cleaning food, utensils, clothing etc. This results in far less contamination and disease.

The number of Mexicans living in houses with dirt floors declined by over half, dropping from 14.8% down to 6.6%. Dirt floors are also associated with greater contamination and disease. Overcrowding, defined as more than two persons a room, is still an issue in virtually all areas of Mexico. The proportion living in homes with more than two persons a room went from 45.9% in 2000 to 36.5% in 2010. This is a significant improvement, but more than a third of Mexicans still live in overcrowded housing.

Comparisons between states

Chiapas and Oaxaca made spectacular progress in providing sanitary drainage. The proportion without sanitary drainage was cut by about three quarters. In Chiapas it went from 19.3% down to 5.1%. In Oaxaca, it dropped from 18.1% to only 4.0%. Other states with very impressive improvements include Zacatecas (19.7% to 6.7%), Hidalgo (17.2% to 6.0%), Puebla (11.9% to 3.1%), Michoacán (11.4% to 3.8%) and Veracruz (10.2% to 2.6%). The state with the highest proportion without sanitary drainage is Guerrero with 19.6% (down from 35.2% in 2000). The second highest is Yucatán at 12.6% (down from 24.0%). The lowest rates are in the Federal District (0.1%), followed by Nuevo León and Baja California (each with 0.4%).

Mexican housingProgress in providing piped water was far less impressive. The situation is worst in Guerrero where the proportion without piped water actually increased from 29.5% to 29.8%. The situation also deteriorated in Morelos (7.3% to 8.2%), Baja California Sur (6.3% to 7.1%), Quintana Roo (5.3% to 6.2%) and the Federal District (1.5% to 1.8%). These states experienced the expansion of low quality informal housing without piped water.

Progress in reducing the proportion living with dirt floors was considerably better, especially in the poorest states: Oaxaca, from 41.6% 2000 down to 19.3% in 2010; Chiapas, 40.9% to 15.7%; Guerrero, 40.0% to 19.6%; Veracruz, 29.3% to 12.4%; Puebla, 24.1% to 9.9%; San Luis Potosi, 23.7% to 9.1%; and Michoacán, 19.9% to 11.0%.

Like the other housing measures, overcrowding (more than two persons a room) is worse in the poorer states. The proportion is highest in Chiapas at 53.9% (down from 65.0% in 2000). Other states with high levels are Guerrero (50.2%), Oaxaca (46.5%), Campeche (46.0%) and Puebla (44.6%). All Mexican states reduced overcrowding by about 25%. Even in wealthy states, overcrowding is significant with the Federal District registering 26.1%, Baja California 29.1% and Nuevo León 29.8%.

The situation in Mexico’s poorest municipalities

Housing is particularly bad in Mexico’s 100 poorest municipalities, which tend to be rural communities occupied by indigenous groups. On average, 21% of the 1.5 million residents of these municipalities do not have sanitary drainage, 47% lack piped water, 64% live in overcrowded housing, 33% have dirt floors and 19% lack electricity.

On a positive note, many of these municipalities have made outstanding progress since 2000. For example, several communities reduced the proportion without sanitary drainage from over 40% to less than 5%. Others increased the percentage with piped water from less than 30% to over 60%. The proportion with dirt floors in several municipalities went from over 60% to less than 20%.

Some of these poor communities now score quite high on some housing variables. For example, in 20 of the 100 municipalities, 98% have sanitary drainage; however in 10 of these 20, over half the people lack piped water. On the other hand, in five of the poorest 100 municipalities, over 90% of the people have piped water. In nine of the 100, less than 15% live with dirt floors. These data reveal that poor housing in Mexico is characterized by a variety of different deficiencies. However, one conclusion is clear: overcrowding remains a problem in all the poorest 100 municipalities. In only seven of the 100 is overcrowding less than 60%; it is over 80% in 78 of Mexico’s 100 poorest communities.

Source of data:

CONAPO, “Índice de marginación por entidad federativa y municipio, 2010” México D.F., October 2011.

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Dec 142011

In a previous post, we looked briefly at the role of plastics recycling in Mexico City’s waste separation program. In this post, we describe two other developments related to solid waste disposal.

Recycling finally reaches the take-off point in Mexico

Nationwide, it took an entire decade for the plastics recycling rate in Mexico to increase from 10 to 15%. Then, in 2010, as more companies sought part of a potentially very lucrative market, the rate shot up to 17%. Admittedly, though, Mexico still lags far behind the 22% rate boasted by the European Union members in this regard.

Mexican industry generates 3.8 million metric tons of plastic waste a year (36% of it in Mexico City). The nationwide recycling capacity for plastics (geared towards hard plastic or PET) currently stands at only 646,000 metric tons, so there is plenty of room for more companies and recycling plants.

Garbage-powered street lights

The World Bank is helping finance a new bio-energy project in Monterrery which will reduce emissions by the equivalent of a million tons of CO2. This is about the same quantity as the annual emissions of 90,000 vehicles, or the amount of CO2 that would be absorbed annually by a forest with an area of 970 hectares.

The project, run by Bioenergía de Nuevo León, uses methane gas given off by decomposing garbage in one of the city’s landfills, in Salinas Victoria, which receives 5000 tons of garbage a day. The power plant’s installed generation capacity of 17mW should be sufficient to supply 90% of the nighttime street lighting in the Monterrey metro area. During the day, power from the project is supplied to the city’s metro system. Any surplus is sold to the Federal Electricity Commission and fed into the national grid.

photo of garbage

Recycling has a long way to go...

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Dec 122011

In an earlier post –International financial flows: how do Mexican migrants send remittances back home?– we looked at some of the ways used by Mexican migrants to send remittance payments back to their families and friends in Mexico. The World Bank study headed by Raúl Hernández-Coss (2005) breaks down the discussion about how remittance payments are made into three distinct stages (see diagram):

1. First Mile – how the sender of a remittance payment decides where and how to initiate the transfer.
2. Transfer (intermediary stage) – several financial systems combine to transfer funds.
3. Last Mile – how the recipient gains access to the funds that have been sent.

Summary of remittance flows. Source: World Bank report (details in text)

Summary of remittance flows. Source: World Bank report (details in text)

This post looks at the “First Mile“.

What factors influence the choices made by the sender of the remittances?

The World Bank researchers conclude that several factors are important considerations for the senders of remittances.

  • the ease of access to formal channels. Is there a bank or credit union close to where they live or work?
  • their level of financial awareness. Many migrants have limited experience of international financial transactions. Many do not have bank accounts.
  • the perceived reliability of the service. Many Mexican do not trust banks.
  • familiarity with the company providing the service. This is strongly influenced by “cultural” familiarity. Sending a wire transfer from a US branch of a Mexican supermarket chain, for example, might be preferred over a US bank with an unfamiliar name.
  • the desire for anonymity. Using formal channels requires photo-identification. Some migrants prefer informal channels for this reason alone.
  • their knowledge of “the Final Mile”. If they are sending funds to a remote village, far from a bank, they may opt to rely on a friend or relative carrying cash on their behalf back to their families, rather than involve their family in a lengthy and potentially costly trip to the nearest bank. This factor is becoming less of an issue. In recent years, formal banking channels have extended into many (though not yet all) small towns in the migrants’ home states in Mexico, offering recipients of remittances easier access to funds sent through formal channels.
  • the costs (see below) of the alternative transfer methods available
  • their legal status. For formal transfers, some form of photo-identification is normally required. Undocumented migrants do not normally have this option. (but see below)

Two recent trends are worth examining in more detail:

1. The declining cost of making a remittance transfer

Remittance senders have to take into account the relative expenses associated with competing transfer options. The average cost of making transfers has dropped dramatically in recent years. The sharpest falls came about a decade ago. For example, the average fee fell from $26.12 in 1999 to $12.84 in 2003, a drop of more than 50%.

Why has this happened?

  • The Mexican government has policies that encourage lower fees at the recipient’s end of the transfer.
  • Increased competition among private sector companies for a share of the international transfer market has forced prices down.
  • Improved technologies have made transfers faster (close to instantaneous), and lowered administrative costs associated with transfers [think automatic computerized systems instead of paper-pushing clerks!]

Lower prices have made it less attractive to use unregulated informal methods. In many cases informal methods are now significantly more expensive than most of the options involving a formal bank-to-bank transfer.

2. High-security consular certificates

In order to make it easier for undocumented workers to send funds back home safely, the Mexican government issues an official identity document through its consulates in the USA.

Mexican consulates began issuing these certificates as long ago as 1871! The certificates are now called the Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS).  The Mexican government negotiated for their acceptance by US authorities, including homeland security.

The current high-security version of the MCAS, recognized by international law, is accepted in more than 30 states, 400 cities, 1,000 police agencies and 280 banking institutions, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, Citibank and HSBC. It has allowed many Mexicans to access, for the first time, formal channels for sending remittances back home.

There are four basic requirements to get an MCAS:

  • Proof of nationality (eg Mexican birth certificate, passport, or formal declaration of Mexican nationality)
  • Proof of identity (any official ID card issued in Mexico or elsewhere, including any passport, drivers licenses, voter card, official school records, etc)
  • Proof of residency (a utility bill or official correspondence with that address)
  • Payment of a processing fee of $26.

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Dec 092011

In the past two decades, Mexico has made very impressive progress in providing electricity to its citizens, especially those living in rural areas. The 87.5% of Mexicans that had electricity in 1990 lived mostly in cities and towns. Many of the 95.0% that had electricity in 2000 lived in rural areas. The proportion without electricity was cut way down to only 1.8% by 2010.

During the past decade, virtually all those who obtained electricity for the first time lived in rural areas. The gains in some states were very impressive. The proportion without electricity in Oaxaca went from 13% in 2000 to 5% in 2010. In San Luis Potosí and Chiapas it fell from 12% to only 4%. In Veracruz it dropped from 11% to just 3% and in Tabasco it went from 5.8% to only 1.2%.

Postage stamp commemorating the nationalization of Mexico's electricity industry

The states with the highest proportion without electricity in 2010 were Oaxaca (4.93%), Guerrero (4.38%) and Durango (4.19%). At the other end, were the Federal District (0.08%), Nuevo León (0.30%), Coahuila (0.54%) and Colima (0.59%).

Mexico may never be able to provide electricity to 100% of its citizens, since there are too many people living in very remote areas. In about 8% of municipalities (199 of 2456), more than 10% of the people lack electricity. Of these 199 municipalities, 81 are in Oaxaca, which has 570 municipalities, far more than any other state. Many of the other poorly serviced municipalities are in the relatively poor southern states of Guerrero (15), Veracruz (12), Chiapas (9), Puebla (7) and Michoacán (7).

A surprisingly number of these 199 municipalities are in two northern states: Chihuahua with 16 and Durango with 9. In fact, in 14 Chihuahua municipalities, over 25% of the population lack electricity and in 5 of these over 50% do not have electricity. In Durango the situation is only slightly better: in four municipalities over 25% lack electricity and in one of these 66% do not have electricity. These are among the worst-serviced communities in all of Mexico. In the whole country there are only 9 municipalities where over half the residents do not have electricity and 6 of these 9 are in Chihuahua or Durango. These very poorly-serviced areas are sparsely populated municipalities near the Copper Canyon, occupied mostly by the Tarahumara indigenous group.

Though there are sizable pockets of Mexicans that do have electricity, it is very impressive that, as of 2010, over 98% had access to power.

Source for data:

 CONAPO,Índice de marginación por entidad federativa y municipio. 2010” México D.F., October 2011.

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Dec 082011

Mexico’s production of basic grains has fallen 8.5% this year (compared to 2010) to 28.5 million metric tons, according to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimates. This is a very serious fall, exceeded (on a percentage basis) only by South Africa (15.8%) and Ethiopia (11.3%).

As a result of the fall in production (largely due to the drought affecting much of the northern part of the country), Mexico is expected to import about 11 million tons of grain, mainly corn, almost a million tons more than last year.

Mexico was the world’s 6th largest grain producer in 2010, but has fallen to 8th spot in 2011, overtaken by Russia and Argentina. The world’s five largest grain producers are USA, China, European Union, Brazil and India. Countries lagging behind Mexico for production of basic grains include Canada, Australia, Indonesia and Nigeria.

Dec 072011

The federal government has announced a six-year overhaul of Mexico’s domestic natural gas market, coupled with building some major extensions to the existing natural gas pipeline network.

Recent discoveries of massive reserves of shale gas have prompted the government to abandon plans to build more nuclear power stations and focus more attention on natural gas. New combined-cycle power stations are planned, alongside 4,400 km of new pipelines, which will be funded by 8 billion dollars of public-private financing and bring natural gas to more than 5 million potential consumers for the first time.

The expansion of Mexico’s pipeline network will extend the system into four states–Zacatecas, Colima, Sinaloa and Morelos–where natural gas was previously unavailable. The improvements in infrastructure should persuade many businesses to switch from oil and liquid petroleum gas to cleaner and less expensive natural gas.

Projected gas pipeline network, 2020.

Mexico's projected natural gas pipeline network, 2020.

The major projects are shown on the map (green pipelines already exist). The Manzanillo-Guadalajara section (shown in red) is already built and being subjected to final testing before being brought on-stream early in 2012. It will immediately increase the competitiveness of companies in several key parts of central Mexico.

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Dec 022011

The interesting and important state of Puebla is often overlooked because it is overshadowed by nearby Mexico City. In fact the western state border of Puebla is within 35 kilometers of the eastern edge of the Federal District. The state of Puebla also may be overlooked because it is rather small in area, ranking only 21st among Mexico’s 32 states. On the other hand, its 2010 population of nearly 5.8 million ranks it 5th behind only Mexico State, the Mexico City Federal District, Veracruz and Jalisco.

Though small in size, Puebla is very diverse. The topography is rugged and elevations range from under 100 meters in the northeast to volcanoes  rising over 5,000 meters above sea level, both to the east (Orizaba – 5,636m) and west (Popocatepetl – 5,410m and Iztaccihuatl – 5,230m). These extremes in elevation give Puebla a very wide range of climates and ecosystems, from semi-tropical rainforests and grasslands to highland forests and alpine ice packs.

Almost inevitably, given its high population density (168.5 inhabitants/square kilometer), many of these ecosystems have been degraded. Several of the most attractive natural areas are now protected. They include the Izta-Popo Zoquiapán, La Malinche and Pico de Orizaba National Parks as well as the very large Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve, which has over 100 different mammal species, 16 of which exist nowhere else on the planet.

Puebla also has significant social and ethnic diversity. There are numerous wealthy people and upscale areas in Puebla City, which has the eighth highest 2005 Human Development Index (HDI) score among major Mexican cities, behind only Mexico City, Chihuahua City, Monterrey, Querétaro City, Cancún, Torreón and Cuernavaca. Most people are surprised it comes out ahead of Guadalajara and Zapopan.

On the other hand, the state as a whole is rather poor. Based on its relatively poor levels of infant mortality, literacy, school enrollment, and income levels, the state ranks 28th of 32 states in terms of 2008 Human Development Index. Puebla is tied with Michoacán and ahead of only Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca[1]. It also ranks 28th in illiteracy which is over 10% (2010); however 96% of the 6 to 11-year-olds now attend school, and illiteracy for those between the ages of 15 and 25 is less than 3%. While 98% of homes now have electricity, over half of Puebla’s workers make less than $115 pesos ($8.20US) a day. Approximately two/thirds of the state’s population live below the Mexican poverty line. The state’s high level of poverty is partially due to its indigenous population of almost one million and the fact that almost 30% of its inhabitants live in rural areas, some of them quite remote.

The city of Puebla is the heart of a Metropolitan Area which extends across state lines to the city of Tlaxcala. Metropolitan Puebla-Tlaxcala is the country’s 4th largest urban area with a population over 3.1 million, but is overshadowed by Mexico City, the eastern edge of which is less than 30 minutes by expressway. In fact, some urban specialists suggest that these two major metropolitan areas may merge in the future. On the other hand, the mighty Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, both over 5,000 meters in height, lie directly between the two cities. The high speed expressway skirts around the north side of the volcanoes.

The city of Puebla has long had strategic significance. The city was initially established during the colonial period owing to its strategic location between Mexico City and Veracruz, the dominant port for shipments to and from Spain. Puebla was the country’s second largest city for more than three centuries up until the mid 19th century. The Mexico City-Puebla railway was completed in 1869, but the main line to Veracruz bypassed the city, which diminished its comparative advantage, and resulted in it dropping to fourth place, overtaken by Guadalajara and Monterrey.

The state’s historical importance is evidenced by numerous important military confrontations, including the massacre of Cholula (1519), Santa Ana’s siege of Puebla City (1845), American General Winfield Scott’s occupation (1845-48), the “Cinco de Mayo” battle of Puebla against the French (1862), the French victory in the Second Battle of Puebla (1863), and occupation by the Zapatistas during the Mexican Revolution. The state is the birthplace of four Mexican Presidents: Ignacio Comonfort (1855–1858), Juan N. Méndez (1876–1877), Manuel Ávila Camacho (1940–1946) and Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–1970).

Despite the state’s relative poverty, industrial development has been significant and Puebla has become one of Mexico’s most industrialized states. Since colonial times Puebla has been an important center for the textile and ceramic industries. Much of Mexico’s famous talavera pottery is made in Puebla. Talavera came to Puebla from Talavera, Spain, which in turn had acquired it from Arab traders who originally brought it from China.

Since the mid 20th century Puebla has become a very important modern industrial area. The most important manufacturing activities are metals, chemicals, electronics, textiles and particularly motor vehicles. The Volkswagen plant in Puebla is one of the largest outside Germany. In July 2003 it produced the very last of the over 21 million old “Beetles” built by VW. The plant now produces New Beetles, Jettas and Boras that are exported worldwide. The motor vehicle assembly industry is supported by scores of automobile parts factories in the state.

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Nov 302011

Remittance payments are one of the world’s major international financial flows. Mexican migrants in the USA send more than 20 billion dollars a year in total back to their families and friends. But how exactly are remittance payments made?

A 2005 World Bank study led by Raúl Hernández-Coss entitled “The U.S.–Mexico Remittance Corridor: Lessons on Shifting from Informal to Formal Transfer Systems” answers these questions, with a detailed analysis of the mechanisms and constraints of remittance transfers between USA and Mexico.

The mechanisms used to send money home can be broadly divided into two categories: formal and informal. Formal transfers use the regulated financial systems of the two countries concerned, in this case of USA and Mexico. Formal transfers include those made via banks, credit unions, wire transfer services and postal services. For formal transfers, migrants choose between direct “electronic” transfers from one bank to another, or sending a bank check by post or with a friend, or providing the recipient access to a bank account via an ATM card.

Informal transfers are all the other ways in which funds are repatriated: via ethnic stores, travel agencies, unregistered  money changers, courier services, hawala-type systems (informal value transfer systems) and hand-delivery.

Funds sent via formal channels are better monitored and more secure than funds sent via informal channels. Does this mean that personal remittances might be a good way to repatriate drug profits? The researchers involved in the World Bank study do not believe so:

“Personal remittances, such as migrant worker remittances, have not been widely associated with money laundering schemes, with the exception of “smurfing” (dividing transfers into smaller packages to evade reporting requirements on larger amounts). Larger transfers, such as those related to trade, generally have higher utility for money laundering schemes than do personal transfers of small amounts.”

Trends in methods used for remittance transfers. Credit: World Bank, 2005

Trends in methods used for remittance transfers. Credit: World Bank, 2005

The statistics for the value of remittances are based largely on formal transfers. One clear trend, reflected in data from Mexico’s central bank (Banxico), is that migrants are increasingly choosing to send funds using direct electronic transfers (see graph), rather than by personal checks or money orders.

In a future post, we will try to answer the question, “What factors affect migrants’ decisions about the best way to send their money back to Mexico?”

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Nov 282011

Data from Mexico’s 2010 census indicate that considerable progress has been made in the recent past. Literacy of those over age 15 has increased from 87.6% in 1990 to 90.5% in 2000 and 93.1% in 2010. This is to be expected since literacy varies with age. As the older people, many of whom are illiterate, die off, they are replaced by younger, more literate, Mexicans. For example, in 2010, 34% of those over age 75 were illiterate, compared to under 2% for those aged 15 to 29.

Literacy is highest in the Federal District (97.9%) and lowest in Chiapas (82.2%), Guerrero (83.3%) and Oaxaca (83.7%). In future decades, illiteracy will continue to decline significantly, especially in the poorer southern states. However, with life expectancy increasing and older people living longer, illiteracy will not decline as fast as it might.

Preschool, primary schools (primaria) and junior high schools (secundaria)

educationAbout half of Mexican children aged 3 to 5 attended preschool in 2010. Basic education begins with primary schools (primaria) with grades 1 to 6 for children generally between the ages of 6 and about 12. Junior high schools (secundaria) cover grades 7 to 9 and focus on 12 to 15-year-olds. In Mexico primaria and secundaria are compulsory; however, in the past, many children dropped out for a wide variety of reasons (the need to work and support the family being a major one). Mexico’s telescundaria system brings junior high school lessons to students in remote areas via satellite.

In 2010, an impressive 95% of those aged from 6 to 14 attended school, compared to 91% in 2000 and 86% in 1990. The majority of the 5% not attending school in 2010 did attend school previously and had acquired basic literacy. The rather poor state of Hidalgo had the highest attendance rate in 2010 with 96.4% (tied with Tlaxcala and the Federal District). The lowest levels were in Chiapas (90.8%), Michoacán (92.4%) and Guerrero (93.1%).

The rather small difference between the highest and lowest rates suggests that most Mexicans throughout the country have relatively equal access to basic education. Even in the poorest 125 of Mexico’s 2442 municipalities 88% of 6 to 14-year-olds were in school, according to the 2010 census.

High or senior high schools (preparatoria)

Senior high school education (prepatratoria) offers grades 10 to 12 and is not compulsory. Students generally are aged between 15 and 18. Some of these schools focus on preparing students for university while others focus on vocational training. In some rural areas, students must travel considerable distances to the nearest senior high school, and some have to live away from home during term time.

Teaching hours and the quality of education

Unfortunately, school attendance is not a reliable indicator of the number of teaching hours. Students receive only 2.8 hours of real instruction per day according to a new study by Mexicanos Primero, a citizens’ group focused on improving the quality of education. The study indicates that Mexican students get 562 hours of instruction per year, compared to 710 hours in the USA, 875 in France, 1172 in Finland and 1195 in South Korea. Mexicanos Primero complains that too much real instruction time is lost due to preparation for parades and festivals, teacher absenteeism and school closures.

There are also issues concerning the quality of education. According a recent Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Mexico is doing a poor job of educating its youth. Only 1% of Mexican 15-year-olds have the knowledge and skills needed for full participation in modern society, compared to 30% in Hong Kong and 26% in South Korea.

Higher education has made impressive gains. In 2010 over 40% of those aged 15 to 24 were attending school compared to 33% in 2000 and 30% in 1990.

temporary classroom

Temporary classroom while a new school is being built. (Jungapeo, Michoacán, mid-1980s). Photo: Tony Burton.

Years of schooling

The “average years of schooling” figure has increased about one year a decade, from 6.5 years in 1990 to 7.5 in 2000 and 8.6 in 2010. The Federal District is the most educated with an average of 10.5 years of schooling, compared to 6.7 in Chiapas and 6.9 in Oaxaca. Given historical trends, older adults have significantly fewer years of education than younger adults.

There are still some serious urban-rural differences. The best educated municipality is Benito Juárez in the Federal District with 13.9 years, compared to levels between 2.3 and 3.4 years for the ten lowest municipalities, which are all in the rural south and are predominately indigenous language speakers. In these poor indigenous rural municipalities, most of the elderly have virtually no schooling even if the majority of children are now attending school and learning Spanish.


Nov 262011

Recent floods in parts of the city of Poza Rica (Veracruz) resulted in an unusually dangerous situation. As groundwater rose following exceptionally heavy rains, a mixture of water and oil flowed out of some street drains.

street awash with oil photo

A Poza Rica street awash with oil and water. Credit: La Voz del Sureste

The precise cause is unknown. The city is blaming the state oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Pemex claims that the hydrocarbons are natural tar, deposits of which underlie some parts of the region.

Whatever the cause, the flooding resulted in extremely hazardous conditions in the Chapultepec colonia, where Ébano, Nogal, Chopo, Eucalipto, Ciprés, Fresno and Sabino streets were badly affecfed, and in the Cazones colonia, where the aptly-named Pozo 13 (Well 13) was awash with oil. The mayor of Poza Rica was quoted as saying that “The rivers of crude left parked cars completely covered.”

Families living in the affected areas were evacuated temporarily for their own safety. Fortunately, local authorities, assisted by Environmental Protection officials and Pemex experts, were able to quickly bring the situation under control, without any loss of life or serious injuries.


  • Brota hidrocarburo de drenajes en Poza Rica (Diario La Voz del Sureste online)
  • Concluyen limpieza de derrame de hidrocarburo en Poza Rica (