Nov 262020

We have frequently published international comparisons showing how Mexico fares in comparison with other Latin American countries and major world economies for a wide variety of indicators.

Reliable comparisons for comparing countries on their Covid-19 response have been hard to come by, but here is a link to one compiled by Bloomberg News:

As the article concludes, Mexico’s response to Covid-19 does not bode well for future economic progress. Nor does it bode well for reducing economic and social disparities within Mexico.

Stay safe!

Which are the best states in Mexico for doing business in 2016?

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Which are the best states in Mexico for doing business in 2016?
Sep 232016

A study just released by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, Doing Business en México 2016, compares Mexico’s 32 states for the paperwork, time and costs associated with four major indicators: opening a new business, obtaining construction permits, registering industrial property rights and the resolution of commercial disputes.

The report concludes that the seven best states in which to do business are Aguascalientes, the State of Mexico, Colima, Puebla, Sinaloa, Guanajuato and Durango, all of which offer a better performance than the average for OECD high income countries.


Overall ranking for Doing Business in Mexico 2016 (Source: Fig 1-2 of World Bank Report)

The three states that have advanced the most towards implementing international best practices since 2014 are Puebla, Jalisco and the State of México.

The map shows the rank order of states for doing business, from green (the best) to red (the lowest ranking). Unlike many maps of state-by-state performance, this map does not show any evidence for the north-south divide we have repeatedly commented on in the past.

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Aug 012016

The National Statistics Agency’s (INEGI’s) 2015 Survey of Socioeconomic Conditions includes data for average household incomes in Mexico, on a state-by-state basis. The national average household income (for a three month period) is $45,887 (pesos) . The map below shows how each state’s average household income compares to the national average.

Household income, by state, 2015. Data: INEGI. Cartography: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico; all rights reserved

Household income, by state, 2015. Data: INEGI. Cartography: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico

The state with the highest household income is Nuevo León, with $66,836, more than 140% of the national average. The state with the lowest household income is Guerrero ($27,584), where the average household income is only 60.1% of the national average. Guerrero’s average household income is only 41% of the average for Nuevo León.

As we have regularly highlighted in the past, regional differences in Mexico are considerable, and a definite “north-south divide”can be identified for almost every socio-economic variable. Development efforts need to be focused on improving the key indicators for southern Mexico and reducing these regional disparities.

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Gender disparities and the value of women’s work in the home

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Gender disparities and the value of women’s work in the home
Apr 072016

In August 2012, in The value in Mexico of unpaid work in the home, we saw that a study by the National Statistics Institute (INEGI) based on 2010 data had calculated that routine work done in the home (almost 80% of the time-value involved comes from women) was worth about 2.9 trillion pesos to the Mexican economy each year, equivalent to more than 20% of Mexico’s GDP. The INEGI calculations included the costs in time/labor needed to meet the demands of the home, and the net salary that would be paid for someone undertaking similar tasks.

INEGI has just published updated statistics on this topic.  In 2014, unpaid work by women in the home was equivalent to 18% of GDP. This figure means that female contributions in the home continue to make a greater contribution to national GDP than manufacturing (16.7%), commerce (15.5%) or education (4.1%).

The latest INEGI figures show that for every 10 hours that women work (paid or unpaid), men work only 8.3 hours. According to INEGI, the average value of unpaid work by women in the home in rural areas amounted to  51,808 pesos a year (about US$4300 at the then rate of exchange). The value for women married or living with a partner was 61,456 pesos, compared to 26,082 pesos for single women. The average in households which included children under 6 years of age was 60,628 pesos.

Of 29 million Mexicans in employment (in 5.7 million economic units), women account for 43.8% (graph):

% of women in different sectors of the workforce

% of women in different sectors of the workforce, 2014

The figures do reveal a slight decrease in gender inequality since the employment of women is rising slightly faster than that of men, by about 2.0%/year compared to the overall figure of 1.4%/year. In 2014, about 50% of service workers, 34.5% of manufacturing workers, and 11.0% of construction workers were female.

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Historic photo of the month: Mexico City cave-dwellers

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Jul 232015

A shout out to Marcia Ambler for sharing, via email, her memories of Mexico City in the 1950s. Among other things, she recalled how she lived as a child with her family, “in a suburb of Mexico City, where there was a deep barranca with people who lived as cliff dwellers in the barranca walls. There was also a cave nearby with a deep drop which I went in with my friends.”

Her email brought back some fond personal memories of Mexico City from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Shortly after I moved to the city, Time Life published The Great Cities: Mexico City, by John Cottrell. I found this book fascinating at the time, and a quick re-read earlier this week confirms that it still well worth looking for (inexpensive copies available via Abebooks) if you are interested in what makes one of the world’s largest cities tick.

Mexico City cave dwellers. Photo by from The Great Cities: Mexico City" (Time Life books).

Mexico City cave dwellers. Photo by Harold Sund in “The Great Cities: Mexico City” (Time Life, 1979).

Like most Time Life books, it is lavishly illustrated, which brings me back to the caves and cave dwellers, since one of the photos (above), by Harold Sund shows the area that Marcia remembers, and which was also my first introduction to the curious world of relatively modern-day troglodytes in Mexico City.

Sund’s photo shows the Belén de las Flores community, relatively close to western end of Chapultepec Park, though there may well have been, and almost certainly were, several similar settlements elsewhere. This short newspaper article, from the Bangor Daily News in 1978, describes the “year-round comfort” that can be enjoyed in such caves.

I haven’t had the opportunity to revisit this area of Mexico City for more than thirty years, so I’m anxious to know what it looks like now.

Sincere thanks, Marcia, for your message which certainly took me on a trip down memory lane!

Source of photo:

  • John Cottrell. 1979. The Great Cities: Mexico City (Time Life Books, 1979). Photography by Harold Sund.

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Which states in Mexico are the most competitive?

 Maps, Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Which states in Mexico are the most competitive?
Dec 032014

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad AC, IMCO) has published its annual analysis of the competitiveness of Mexico’s states. The report provides some interesting insights into which areas of Mexico are “most competitive” in business terms, defined as their capacity to attract and retain investments and a talented workforce.

This suggests a business environment that maximizes the socio-economic potential of both the business entities and individuals residing in a a specific area. It also suggests that any improved well-being (economic and social) will be maintained (sustained).

The index is based on 89 indicators in 10 sub-indices. The 10 major factors include the reliability and objectivity of the legal system, the sustainable management of the natural environment, the stability of macroeconomic policies, the degree to which society is non-divisive, educated and healthy, and the stability and functioning of the political system.

The latest report relies on 2012 data. Mexico’s basic pattern of competitiveness at the state level is shown in the map.

Mexico, 2014. Map: Tony Burton; all rights reserved

Competitiveness in Mexico, 2014. Map: Tony Burton; all rights reserved

The five most competitive states in Mexico are:

  • Federal District (Mexico D.F.)
  • Baja California Sur
  • Aguascalientes
  • Nuevo León
  • Querétaro

While a full analysis of why some states are more competitive than others is beyond the scope of this post, the single most striking aspect of this map is the persistent low degree of competitiveness of several of Mexico’s poorest states, such as Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

In general, states in Northern Mexico are noticeably more competitive than those in Southern Mexico. Two areas on opposite coasts where tourism is extremely important to the local and national economy – Baja California Sur and Quintana Roo – are both very competitive.

Mexico’s economy and workforce are analyzed in chapters 14 to 20 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, order your own copy, which will still arrive in time for Christmas…

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Disparities in wealth in Mexico: trends include a growing middle class as well as more millionaires

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Disparities in wealth in Mexico: trends include a growing middle class as well as more millionaires
Jun 242013

Two recent studies shed an interesting light on the distribution of wealth in Mexico. The first, carried out by the the National Statistics Agency (INEGI) is that agency’s first ever analysis of Mexico’s social classes. The study found that 12.3 million homes and 44 million people (39% of the total population) were “middle class” in 2010, up from 35% in 2000. In urban areas, 47% of the population was middle class, compared to just 26% in rural areas. Middle class homes had at least one computer, spent about 115 dollars [1,470 pesos] a month on eating and drinking outside the home, had at least one resident with a credit card and one with formal employment. In most cases, the head of household had gained a tertiary qualification. The same report found that almost 60% of Mexico’s population matched the criteria for “lower class”, while only 1.7% of the population could be best described as “upper class”.

However, a second study, by consultancy WealthInsight (“Mexico Wealth Book: Trends in Millionaire Wealth“) provides compelling evidence that the number of wealthy and super-wealthy individuals in Mexico has risen sharply. From 2007 to 2012, during the administration of President Felipe Calderón, the number of millionaires in Mexico rose by 32%, whereas the global average for the same period (which included economic recession in the USA and Europe) declined by 0.3%.

WealthInsight found that in 2012 Mexico had 145,000 individuals with a “High Net Worth” (defined as over a million dollars in assets besides their principal residence). Together these high net worth individuals hold a fortune of $736 billion, equivalent to 43% of Mexico ‘s total individual wealth. This number is well above the worldwide average of 29%, indicating that Mexico has a relatively uneven distribution of wealth. What’s more, WealthInsight expects the trend to continue and predicts that by 2017, the number of millionaires in Mexico will grow a further 47% to reach 213,000.

Included in the figure for millionaires are 2,540 multimillionaires (with individual net assets of $30 million or more), 2272 “affluent millionaires”(net assets between $30
million and $100 million) and 252 “centimillionaires” (net assets between $100 million and $1 billion). Mexico also has 16 billionaires, a number expected to rise to 21 by 2017. Grouped together, these ultra high net worth individuals are worth $364 billion in total combined wealth. By 2017 the total wealth of multimillionaires is projected to increase by 44% to reach $525 billion. The report predicts that the total wealth of Mexican billionaires will grow by 26% to reach $241 billion by the end of 2017.

The Mexican city with most multimillionaires is Mexico City; 43% of them make their home there.

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Where are the wealthiest households in Mexico?

 Other  Comments Off on Where are the wealthiest households in Mexico?
Nov 102011

A recent publication from the public opinion research consultancy Mitofsky offers some insights into the distribution of different socio-economic groups within Mexico.

The Mitofsky study relies on the AMAI 10×6 system to tabulate the percentage of households in each state that fall into six distinct categories: A/B, C+, C, D+, D and E.

Across Mexico as a whole, 4.4% of households are categorized as A/B (the highest category, see map below), 12.3% as C+, 17.9% as C, 39.1% as D+, 21.6% as D and 4.7% as E (the lowest category).

The data show that, between them, four states–the Federal District (23.4% of all A/B households in Mexico), Jalisco (14.4%), State of México (9.3%) and Nuevo León (5.9%)– account for more than half of all the homes in this category in Mexico

The map shows how the incidence of A/B households (the highest socio-economic category) vary, state by state, across the country.

Distribution of highest socio-economic status households in Mexico.
Households in the highest socio-economic group in Mexico. (Geo-Mexico/Tony Burton; all rights reserved)

Do you live in an A/B household?

1. Housing characteristics:
– average of 6-8 rooms (often 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms) built of brick and/or concrete
– floors tiled, hardwood or stone; more likely to have carpets or rugs than lower categories
– most are owner-occupied, not rented

2. Sanitary Infrastructure
– connected to municipal potable water and sewer systems
– all have tub, shower, and water heater (usually using gas)
– two-thirds of these homes have water cisterns and pump to supply water tanks.
– some have air conditioning and/or central heating

3. Practical Infrastructure
– average 2 vehicles
– all have stoves, refrigerators and washing machines
– almost all have microwave ovens, blenders, toasters, coffee-makers and juice extractors

4. Communications and Entertainment Infrastructure
– almost all have fixed line telephones and cell phones
– most have 3 or 4 TVs and  satellite or cable TV
– all have DVDs and stereos/CD players; half have video game consoles
– average more than 1 computers per household; 75% connected to Internet
– many have memberships of private sports clubs and own a second home or time-share.
– more than 50% have traveled by air at least once in last 6 months, and most travel overseas at least once a year

5. Educational and Occupational Profile of Head of Family
– usually has a bachelor’s degree or higher
– work in medium or large companies, as directors, CEOs or other high-ranking professionals

6. Expenditures
– these households save more, but also spend more on education, entertainment, communication and vehicles
– food purchases account for only 7% of total expenditures, well below the average for the total population
– of these food purchases, the proportion spent on dairy products, fruit, and drinks is greater than lower categories

Questions worth thinking about:

  • How does this map compare to other maps on Geo-Mexico of inequalities across the country? (Use the site search feature or tags from the tag cloud on the left hand side of each page to find other inequality maps)
  • To what extent does this map confirm that north-south divide described in several previous posts?


Niveles socioeconómicos por entidad federativa 2009 – 2010 by Roy Campos and Ana María Hernández; CONSULTA MITOFSKY, December 2010.

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Are Mexicans the world’s hardest-working people or the least productive?

 Books and resources  Comments Off on Are Mexicans the world’s hardest-working people or the least productive?
Jun 042011

The headline — “Mexicans work longer hours than anyone else” — said it all, or did it? A recent report from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) found that Mexicans worked longer hours than people in any other OECD country, devoting 10 hours a day to paid and unpaid work (the latter includes housework and cooking). By contrast, Belgians work the least, only 7 hours. The OECD average is 8 hours a day. Is the positive spin simply because the OECD is currently headed by Mexican economist Dr. Angel Gurría?

The figures come from the latest edition of OECD’s Society at a Glance (2011), which gives an overview of social trends and policy developments in all member countries. Using indicators taken from OECD databases and other sources, it shows how societies are changing over time and how different countries compare.

Most unpaid work is housework. Mexicans do the most, more than 3 hours per day, and Koreans the least, only 79 minutes. Mexicans spend more time cooking than is customary in most other countries. The inhabitants of the USA spend the least time cooking each day, barely 30 minutes, and Turks the most, 74 minutes. Most people spend around 50 minutes a day cooking. Shopping also makes up a big part of unpaid work. The OECD average is 23 minutes a day, with the French spending the most (32 minutes) and the Koreans the least (13 minutes).

OECD: Working Hours

OECD: Working Hours

The report also attempts to estimate how much unpaid work is worth as a percentage of GDP for the 25 OECD countries for which data are available. It finds that the value of unpaid work is considerable, equivalent to about one-third of GDP in OECD countries, ranging from a low of 19% in Korea to a high of 53% in Portugal.

From a Mexican perspective, this may all paint a very rosy picture. However, as other commentators (see, for example, Burro Hall) have pointed out, it could equally well mean that Mexicans have the lowest productivity in the world, since they are working longer hours than other countries, but failing, in most sectors, to out-perform them!

Other highlights from the OECD’s Society at a Glance:

  • The 4 hours and 21 minute difference in unpaid work time between Mexican women and men is the largest in the OECD, where the average gap is 2 hours and 28 minutes
  • Mexicans have the second highest level of income inequality and the highest level of relative poverty in the OECD. One in every five Mexicans are poor, compared to just above one in ten on average across the OECD. Nearly half of Mexicans find it difficult or very difficult to get by on their current income.
  • Mexicans report the third highest positive psychological experiences (feeling rested, smiling, learning, and enjoyment) and lower than average negative experiences (pain, worry, stress, sadness, depression).

Children of Mexico’s indigenous groups are disadvantaged from birth

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Children of Mexico’s indigenous groups are disadvantaged from birth
May 302011

About 12% of Mexico’s population belongs to one or other of the numerous indigenous groups in the country. According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Indian children under 5 years old are the group with the most needs in Mexico. They have a mortality rate that is 60% higher than that of non-Indian children.

Indigenous children in Mexico

Their disadvantages “increase when they belong to communities characterized by poverty, marginalization and discrimination.” Almost one-third of all children under 5 years of age belonging to Mexico’s indigenous population are below average height and weight. Illiteracy for this group is four times higher than the national average, because many of them leave school early to help their families make ends meet.

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Chapter 10 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico is devoted to Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Many other chapters of Geo-Mexico include significant discussion of the cultural and development issues facing Mexico’s indigenous groups.