Jul 282016
 

The latest report on poverty from the National Statistics Agency, INEGI, looks like good news for Mexico’s poorest people but, sadly, this is only a mirage, based on a change in the measurement methods used.

The 2015 edition of INEGI’s Survey of Socioeconomic Conditions showed an overall real increase of 11.9% in household earnings, with an increase of over 30% in some states. According to the report, Mexico’s poor are richer by a third compared to last year, a change that some politicians will no doubt claim is the direct result of their effective policies.

Social activists were stunned by the claims of poverty reduction and Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), which measures poverty levels using INEGI’s data, said the changes by the statistics institute were not credible.

According to Jonathan Heath, an independent economic researcher in Mexico City, Inegi is claiming that the previous methods overestimated poverty levels, but the change in methodology, without public consultation, “raises suspicion.”

Quite apart from the misleadingly positive spin on numbers, the change in methodology makes it completely impossible to compare current poverty rates with the rates for previous years.

Related posts:

The pattern of severe poverty within Mexico

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on The pattern of severe poverty within Mexico
Jul 142014
 

As presented in a previous post, 2.8% of Mexicans (3.3 million) live in severe poverty based on a June 2014 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford (University) Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI)[1]. The previous post explained the MPI measure of poverty and discussed how Mexico compared to the 108 countries in the study. This post looks into the details of MPI poverty within Mexico. Poverty in Mexico is mostly a rural problem. According to the study, roughly 8.5% of rural residents are severely poor (2.3 million) compared to only 1.1% of people in urban areas (1.0 million).

As indicated in the previous post, the MPI is based on ten separate indicators; two for education, two for health and six for standard of living. In all cases, people in urban areas scored better on all the indicators than those in rural areas. In rural areas several key MPI indicators contribute the most to poverty: insufficient schooling (19.3%), malnutrition (14.1%), children not attending school (12.9%), use of an unhealthy cooking fuel (12.9%) and unacceptable sanitation (11.7%) [2].

As expected the poorer more rural southern states had the highest MPI poverty levels. Oaxaca had the most living in poverty (11.1%) followed by Guerrero (10.6%) and Chiapas (8.3). Poverty was also high in San Luis Potosí (6.7%), Puebla (5.3%), Veracruz (4.6%), Campeche (4.2%), and Hidalgo (3.4%). These states all have significant indigenous populations. Though the study did not access severe poverty among indigenous groups, available information suggests that those groups suffer by far the highest levels of severe poverty. States with lowest MPI levels are Nuevo León (0.2%), Federal District (0.4%), Baja California (0.4%), Baja California Sur (0.4%), Durango (0.7%), Morelos (1.0%), Colima (1.0%), and Aguascalientes (1.0%); all states with relatively few indigenous inhabitants.

References:

[1] Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), “Global MPI Data Tables for 2014”, Oxford University, June 2014.

[2] Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), “OPHI Country Briefing 2014: Mexico,”

Related posts:

 

 Posted by at 6:59 am  Tagged with:

Multidimensional Poverty in Mexico: How severe is poverty in Mexico?

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Multidimensional Poverty in Mexico: How severe is poverty in Mexico?
Jul 072014
 

How severe is poverty in Mexico? How does it compare to poverty in other countries? A new study released in June 2014 suggests that 2.8% of Mexicans live in severe poverty based on a Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford (University) Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) [1]. For all 108 countries in the study (representing roughly 78% of the world’s population), 32% live in severe poverty; thus the percentage for Mexico appears rather small in comparison to most places. This post is an update of previous Geo-Mexico posts on this topic:

The MPI in the study discussed here is based on a complicated methodology which relies on three different sets of household survey data. Its approach looks at poverty characteristics of household. This is superior to most other poverty measures that look at incomes in comparison to some type of poverty line, which varies widely from country to country. A household may have adequate income, but if that money is spent frivolously on alcohol, drugs, gambling, entertainment, etc., the children in the household might still be living in severe poverty.

Multi-dimensional Poverty Index

Multi-dimensional Poverty Index. (From Alkire & Santos, 2010)

The MPI uses ten indicators (see graphic) representing three equally weighted dimensions of poverty or deprivation within a household: Education, Health and Standard of Living [2]. Education looks at whether any member of the household has at least five years of schooling and if all school –aged children are attending school. Health focuses on whether a child in the family has died and if any adult or child in the household is malnourished. Standard of Living has six indicators for each household: electricity, safe drinking water, proper sanitation, adequate house flooring (not dirt, sand or dung), clean cooking fuel (not wood, charcoal or dung), and ownership of more than one of the following – radio, TV, telephone, bike, motorbike, refrigerator or ownership of a car or truck. Obviously these indicators reveal far more details about poverty than simple income measures. A complicated formula is used to combine these indicators to identify households in severe poverty. A more detailed description of the methodology is provided in this previous post.

As noted above, according to MPI, 2.8% of Mexicans or 3.3 million people are severely poor [3] compared to 32% or 1.6 billion in the 108 countries analyzed which include most of the countries of Latin American, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Of the 108 countries, 29 have smaller percentages living in severe poverty than Mexico. These include Belarus (0.0%), Russia (1.3%), Ecuador (2.2%) and Brazil (2.7%). It is interesting that Ecuador and Brazil have lower MDI levels of poverty than Mexico because both have lower per capita incomes than Mexico and far more income inequality. For example, 0.7% of Mexicans live on under $1.25 a day and 4.5% live on under $2.00 a day, compared to 4.4% and 13.6% for Ecuador and 3.8% and 9.9% for Brazil. Apparently, in Ecuador and Brazil either survival necessities are cheaper or they spend their incomes more wisely or public safety nets are more effective. This suggests that Mexicans could do a better job of combating severe poverty.

Countries with slightly worse MPI levels than Mexico are Argentina (3.0%), the Czech Republic (3.1%), Hungary (4.6%), Dominican Republic (4.6%), Colombia (5.4%), Egypt (6.0%) and Turkey (6.6%). That the Czech Republic and Hungary are below Mexico is a bit of a surprise. Further down on the list are China (12.5%), South Africa (13.4%), Peru (19.9%), Indonesia (20.8%), and Guatemala (25.9%). The countries with the severest MPI levels include Pakistan (49.4%), India (53.7%), Nigeria (54.1%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (73.2%), Ethiopia (88.6%), and lastly Niger (92.4%).

According to the study the country with the most people living in severe poverty is India (612 million) followed by China (162m), Bangladesh (83m), Nigeria (82m), Pakistan (81m), Ethiopia (66m), Indonesia (48m), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (44m). Compared to these countries, the 3.3 million in Mexico seems like a rather small number.

Though severe poverty in Mexico is far less than in most other countries, it is still a very serious problem which needs to be addressed. As might be expected, within Mexico severe poverty is worst in rural areas and southern states; we will look more closely at this in a subsequent post.

References:

[1] Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), “Global MPI Data Tables for 2014”, Oxford University, June 2014.

[2] Sabine Alkire and Maria Emma Santos, “Acute Multidimensional Poverty: A new Index for Developing Countries”, Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), July 2010, Paper No. 38, .

[3] According to the Mexican Government’s Poverty Line, 52% of Mexicans live in poverty. Obviously this is a very different poverty measure than the MPI.

Related posts:

 Posted by at 6:49 am  Tagged with:
Mar 132014
 

Having noted in previous posts that farm sizes in southern Mexico are smaller (on average) than in northern Mexico, and that farm size is affected by socio-economic factors, and that farmers of smallholdings are unable to generate a decent profit, it is interesting to consider the relationship between farm size and marginalization.

Mexico’s National Population Commission (Conapo) has formulated a compound indicator of “marginalization” and publishes its “marginalization index” at regular intervals. Data are available at both the state and the municipal level for the entire country. This discussion relies on the state level data.

Scatter graph showing average farm size and marginalization index

Scatter graph showing average farm size and marginalization index. Data: INEGI, Conapo. Credit: Geo-Mexico

Each dot on this scatter plot represents a state. For the 32 points, the statistical correlation (Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient) is –0.483. This negative correlation (significant at the 95% level) means that marginalization is inversely associated with farm size  (i.e. the greater the marginalization, the smaller the likely farm size).

In short, the north-south divide that we found when looking at the pattern of farm sizes in Mexico is closely linked to the north-south economic divide that characterizes the country.

Related posts:

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural crops and oranges. Also worth reading are:

The number of small farms in Mexico is growing

 Excerpts from Geo-Mexico, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on The number of small farms in Mexico is growing
Mar 032014
 

The uneven distribution of farmland in Mexico was one of the fundamental causes of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, but by no means the only one. Landless campesinos (peasant farmers) lacked any way to control their own supplies of food. Revolutionary leaders called for the expropriation of the large estates or haciendas, which had been the principal means of agricultural production since colonial times, and the redistribution of land among the rural poor. A law governing this radical change in the land tenure system came into force in 1917 and the process has continued, albeit sporadically, into modern times.

About half of all cultivated land in Mexico was converted from large estates into ejidos, a form of collective farming. In most ejidos, each individual ejidatario has the rights to use between 4 and 20 hectares (10-50 acres) of land, depending on soil quality and whether or not it is irrigated. In addition, members of the ejido share collective rights over the use of local pasture and woodland.

By 1970 land redistribution had been more or less completed. Even so, most farming land still remained in the hands of a very small minority of farmers (Figure 15.2). Only 1% of farms were larger than 5000 hectares (12,355 acres) but between them they shared 47% of all farm land. Meanwhile, 66% of farms were smaller than 10 hectares (25 acres) yet they shared only 2% of all farm land.

Have things improved since then?

The 2007 farm census (see graphic) revealed that two-thirds (66.4%) of all farms are under 5 hectares (12.4 acres) in area; this percentage has remained roughly the same over the past 40 years. Between them, they farm just 6.2% of Mexico’s total farmland.

The number and size of farms, 2007

The number and size of farms, 2007 (updated Figure 15.2 of Geo-Mexico). Data: INEGI. Credit: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico

The number of small farms has increased since 1970, but so has the total number of farms. Between 1991 and 2007, there was a 55.2% increase in the number of farms under 2 hectares in area, and a 45.4% increase in the total area they worked.

There is no solid data for why the number of microfarms has increased, but it may be partially explained by larger farms being split into smaller pieces (one for each family member) following the death of their original owner.

Most tiny farms are likely to be family-run, producing crops largely for subsistence, rather than for market. Small plots of land are likely to prove uneconomic and unsustainable to farm; it is impossible to generate sufficient profit from them for a family to enjoy a decent livelihood.

In one study, Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, writing for Financiera Rural, calculated that a typical smallholding of 5 hectares, planted with corn (maize) could generate a profit for the owner of about $4000 pesos. This profit represents 6 months work. At the time of his study, someone earning minimum wage for the same six months would have received a total of almost $10,000 pesos. The precise numbers vary, depending on average yields and the crops planted, but cultivating a smallholding is obviously not an easy way to make a living.

These same farmers are unable to advance since they have no means of accessing credit, having no suitable assets to offer as collateral, even if they could ever afford to pay the interest! Similarly, they do not have the savings to invest in improved equipment, higher cost seeds or to introduce new techniques or technology. They are, essentially, trapped in a cycle of poverty.

At the other end of the scale, a very small percentage of farms in Mexico are very large indeed. Nationwide, 2.2% of farms account for 65.1% of the total area farmed in the country. Larger farms are commercial operations, sometimes multinational operations. Their size and profitability ensures they have ready access to credit, and can adopt new technologies and methods relatively quickly.

The uneven distribution of land in Mexico clearly remains an issue, one that is likely to impact social justice agricultural output and productivity for decades to come.

Related posts:

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural crops and oranges. Also worth reading are:

Extreme poverty declined between 2010 and 2012

 Other, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Extreme poverty declined between 2010 and 2012
Feb 012014
 

As we saw in an earlier post – Poverty on the rise in some states in Mexico – the total number of people living in poverty in Mexico continues to rise, though the poverty rate (as a percentage) remains roughly the same.

The measures of poverty used by Mexico’s National Political and Social Development Commission (Coneval) are multidimensional, and not simply based on household or personal income. This map shows the changes in “extreme multidimensional poverty” (a category that includes “the poorest of the poor”)  that occurred in Mexico between 2010 and 2012.

Changes in levels of extreme poverty in Mexico, 2010-2012.

Changes in levels of extreme poverty in Mexico, 2010-2012. Credit: Geo-Mexico; all rights reserved. Data: Coneval

In areas shaded red, a higher percentage of the population experienced “extreme poverty” in 2012 than in 2010; their personal situations and opportunities have presumably become significantly worse. Interestingly, this category includes the prosperous states of Nuevo León (economy based on manufacturing and services) and Quintana Roo (tourism).

The reverse is true for areas shaded blue where the extreme poverty rate has fallen: many of the people living in those areas have moved out of the most extreme category and presumably have seen their fortunes and opportunities improve, even if, in most cases, not sufficiently to have escaped the “poverty” category completely. This category includes more than half of Mexico’s 32 administrative divisions.

The fact that “extreme poverty” has declined in more than half of Mexico is encouraging, and suggests that government policies aimed at poverty reduction, such as Oportunidades are gradually making a difference. It remains to be seen whether or not this trend continues over the next few years.

Related posts:

Review of “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty”

 Books and resources  Comments Off on Review of “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty”
Jan 272014
 

Every so often a book comes along that shakes up established wisdom and forces us to rethink our viewpoints and beliefs. The latest such book to cross my desk is Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, published by publicaffairs in 2011.

poor-economicsThis is a worthy read for anyone interested in development theory, policy, practice and economics. The authors are professors of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). Their book reports on the effectiveness of solutions to global poverty using an evidence-based randomized control trial approach.

Banerjee and Duflo argue that many anti-poverty policies have failed over the years because of an inadequate understanding of poverty. They conclude that the battle against poverty can be won, but it will take patience, careful thinking and a willingness to learn from evidence.

The authors look at some of the unexpected questions related to poverty that empirical studies have thrown up, such as :

  • Why do the poor (those living on less than 99 cents a day) need to borrow in order to save?
  • Why do the poor miss out on free life-saving immunizations but pay for drugs that they do not need?
  • Why do the poor start many businesses but do not grow any of them?

The book is supported by an outstanding website that includes:

  • Introductions to each chapter
  • Maps showing cited studies with links to original sources
  • Data and figures used with interactive data tools
  • A “What Can You Do” page with links to major organizations working in the field or for the problem discussed in the chapter

The website’s links to research papers mentioned in the book include four studies related to Mexico:

1. Do Conditional Cash Transfers Affect Electoral Behavior? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Mexico, by Ana L. De La O.

The evidence comes from the pioneering Progresa, the original Mexican conditional cash transfer (CCT) program (since repackaged as Oportunidades).  This CCT program led to a 7% increase in turnout and a 16% increase in the  incumbent vote share, with clear implications for politicians in areas where CCT programs reach a large percentage of voters.

2 School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program, by T. Paul Schultz of Yale University (August 2001).

This study considered how a CCT program affected school enrollment. The CCT program increased enrollment in school in grades 3 through 9, with the increase often greater for girls than boys. The cumulative effect was estimated to add 0.66 years to the baseline level of 6.80 years of schooling.

3 Experimental Evidence on Returns to Capital and Access to Finance in Mexico, by David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff (March 2008)

Microenterprises are often unable to access suitable financing, even though they are responsible for employing a large portion of the total workforce. This experiment, which gave cash and in-kind grants to small retail firms, demonstrated that this additional capital generated large increases in profits, with the effects concentrated on those firms which were more financially constrained. The estimated return to capital was found to be at least 20 to 33 percent per month, three to five times higher than market interest rates.

4 Working for the Future: Female Factory Work and Child Health in Mexico, by David Atkin (April 2009)

Atkins’ paper found that children whose mothers lived in a town where a maquiladora (export factory) opened when the women were sixteen years old were much taller than those children born to mothers who did not have a similar opportunity. The effect was so large that “it can bridge the entire gap in height between a poor Mexican child and the “norm” for a well-fed American child.” (Poor Economics, 229)

The increase in height could not be fully explained by the changes in family income resulting from employment in a maquiladora. As Bannerjee and Duflo suggest, “Perhaps the sense of control over the future that people get from knowing that there will be an income coming in every month -and not just the income itself- is what allows these women to focus on building their own careers and those of their children. Perhaps this idea that there is a future is what makes the difference between the poor and the middle class.” (Poor Economics, 229)

Conclusion

Banerjee and Duflo’s positive message is that poverty can indeed be alleviated, but we need to take one small measurable step at a time with constant evaluation of whether or not particular policies are successful, based on evidence, not just on belief systems.

Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty” deserves its place of honor alongside other such genuine classics as E.F. Schumaker’s “Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered” (1973). It is a must-read for geographers, regardless of your political persuasion.

Related posts:

Jan 022014
 

The total number of people living in poverty in Mexico continues to rise, though the poverty rate (as a percentage) remains roughly the same. According to Mexico’s National Political and Social Development Commission (Spanish language acronym: Coneval), the number of people in poverty has risen steadily for several years, much in line with Mexico’s rising total population. Coneval’s figures are based on a simple multidimensional poverty index, which considers the following criteria:

  • household income
  • access to education
  • access to food
  • access to health care
  • access to social services
  • housing quality
  • access to basic household services (electricity, water, drainage)

According to Coneval, 53.3 million Mexicans (45.5% of the total population) were living in poverty in 2012, compared to 52.8 million (46.1% of the then population) in 2010 and 48.8 million Mexicans (44.5%of the population) in 2008.

Note that poverty statistics prior to 2008 in Mexico were generally based purely on income levels. From 2008, this method was replaced by a multidimensional index. The precise details of the index have been modified slightly since that time, making exact comparisons between 2012 and 2008 more problematic.

While the precise numbers are subject to debate, mainly due to differing definitions of what constitutes “poverty” and how it can be measured, the trend revealed by the Coneval numbers is supported by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in its “Social Panorama of Latin America 2013“, published in December 2013. The ECLAC report found that Mexico is one of a very few countries where poverty levels rose between 2011 and 2012, from 36.3% of the population to 37.1%, according to its definition.

The dire situation in Mexico compares to a slight decrease in poverty in most larger Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Argentina and Colombia.

In absolute terms, according to ECLAC, 164 million people were found to be living in poverty in Latin America, about 57.4 million (35%) of them in Mexico.

Change in poverty rates in Mexico, 2010-2012.

Change in poverty rates in Mexico, 2010-2012. Credit: Geo-Mexico; all rights reserved. Data: Coneval

The map shows the Coneval data for changes in the poverty rate between 2010 and 2012 by state. It appears that poverty levels increased in many of Mexico’s more prosperous areas and in the longer established industrial areas, as well as in almost all areas where tourism is important. Poverty decreased in some of Mexico’s more rural, and generally poorer, states.

Related posts:

Update on Mexico and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Update on Mexico and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Dec 302013
 

More than 190 countries signed up to the 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed in 2000. There are 8 major goals:

  1. eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. achieve universal primary education
  3. promote gender equality and empower women
  4. reduce child mortality
  5. improve maternal health
  6. combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  7. ensure environmental sustainability
  8. develop a global partnership for development

millenium-development-goalsMexico is well on its way to meeting most of the eight goals, according to the technical committee established to monitor the country’s progress. The technical committee includes representatives from various government departments, as well as INEGI (the National Geography and Statistics Institute) and CONAPO (the National Population Council).

The committee reports that Mexico has already met the targets for 38 (74.5%) of the 51 quantitative indicators used to assess progress towards the 8 goals, and is continuing work towards meeting the remaining targets by 2015 (the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals).

Satisfactory or good progress is being made on 5 of the remaining 13 indicators; all five are expected to be met sometime in 2015.  Progress on the other 8 indicators has been slower than needed, and it now seems highly unlikely that goal 7 (environmental sustainability) can possibly be met.

Specific targets that Mexico has not yet reached and where progress has either stagnated, or deterioration has occurred, include:

  • Decrease in mortality rate per 100,000 inhabitants due to HIV/AIDS  (part of goal 6)
  • Total carbon dioxide emissions (part of goal 7)
  • Proportion of total water resources already in use (part of goal 7)
  • Percentage of inhabitants with private dwellings using charcoal or wood for cooking (part of goal 7)

Related posts:

The world’s richest man in 2011 and other Mexican billionaires

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on The world’s richest man in 2011 and other Mexican billionaires
Mar 192012
 

The Forbes magazine list of the world’s richest individuals in 2011 consists of more than 1500 individuals, each with a wealth of one billion dollars or more. Eleven Mexicans (all men, but one more than last year) made the list. The eleven richest Mexicans are:

World rank / Name / Estimated wealth according to Forbes / Main business interests

#1 Carlos Slim Helú and family, 69.0 billion dollars, making him the richest man in the world. Fixed line telephone provider Telmex, cell phone provider América Móvil, Grupo Carso, Inbursa. [Slim Helú stays in top spot]

#37 Ricardo Salinas Pliego and family, 17.4 billion dollars. Television company Televisón Azteca, domestic appliance store Elektra, bank Banco Azteca, and cell phone company Iusacell [Salinas Pliego gained 26 places in the ranking]

#38 Alberto Bailleres and family, 16.5 billion dollars. Mining giant Peñoles, department store El Palacio de Hierro and Grupo Profuturo [almost doubled his wealth in 2011, up 44 places]

#72 Germán Larrea Mota Velasco and family, 14.2 billion dollars. Grupo México – mining for copper and other minerals

#276 Jerónimo Arango and family, 4 billion dollars. Founder of Aurrerá supermarket chain and Grupo Cifra which controlled VIPS and El Portón restaurant chains, Suburbia department stores and tourist developments in Baja California Peninsula and Acapulco

#634 Emilio Azcárraga, 2.0 billion dollars. Television and media conglomerate Televisa,and Nextel cell phones

#683 Roberto Gonzalez Barrera 1.9 billion dollars. Banking and tortillas

#913 Carlos Hank Rhon & family, 1.4 billion dollars. Banking

#960 Roberto Hernández, 1.3 billion dollars. Banker, one of main shareholders of Citigroup, and tourist developments in the Yucatán Peninsula

#1153 (equal) Alfredo Harp Helú and family, 1 billion dollars. Shareholder in Citibank, telecommunications firm Avantel

#1153 (equal) Joaquín Guzmán Loera (aka “El Chapo”), 1 billion dollars. Mexico’s most wanted man, head of the Sinaloa drugs cartel, the main supplier of cocaine to the US market

The combined total wealth of these eleven individuals is a staggering 129.7 billion dollars (compared to the billionaires’ total of 90.3 billion dollars in 2010). The 2011 figure is equivalent to more than 6% of Mexico’s GDP.

The average earnings of Mexican workers registered in IMSS (Mexico’s Social Security Institute) is about 230 pesos a day or $6,600 (dollars) a year. The combined wealth of Mexico’s eleven richest individuals is therefore equivalent to the total annual salaries of 19.65 million Mexicans earning this average salary! [Last year, the combined wealth of Mexican billionaires was equivalent to “only” 14.3 million Mexicans earning the then average salary.]

Clearly, there are a handful of extremely wealthy individuals living in Mexico, alongside millions of Mexicans who are living at or below the poverty line. These income disparities have existed for a very long time, and are examined in detail in chapter 14 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. That chapter also analyzes the spatial patterns of wealth in Mexico, and discusses whether the gap between rich and poor has widened or narrowed in recent years.

Chapter 29 discusses Gender inequities in Mexico and  Oportunidades, a poverty reduction program (both links are to excerpts from that chapter).

Related articles: