May 102012
 

Linked to Mother’s Day [10 May in Mexico], Save the Children just published their 13th annual report on the“State of the World’s Mothers”.

The report investigates childhood malnutrition and relates it to the well-being of mothers. The focus is on the first 1,000 days from the time of conception to the child’s second birthday. Proper nutrition and health care during these 1,000 days are critically important to brain development and the welfare of the child throughout its lifetime.

Mother and child in a Mexican market

Mother and child in a Mexican market. Photo: Tony Burton.

For decades, development experts have recognized that health, education and economic opportunity of mothers are crucially important to the quality of life of their children. Mothers’ level of education is often the most important factor.

The impacts last for numerous generations. Not only do the children of more educated mothers do better, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren also do better. On the other hand, malnourishment during the first 1,000 days is linked to low education and economic opportunity for the child. It can result in daughters getting pregnant earlier and having less healthy children. This vicious circle can continue for generations.

How does Mexico stack up with other major countries around the world? The results for Mexico are a bit mixed. From 1990 to 2010 Mexico recorded an impressive decrease in malnutrition of 3.1% per year. (The measure of malnutrition used in this comparison was children too short for their age, “stunting”). Mexico has cut malnutrition almost in half (47%) since 1990. This decrease ranks it 11th among the 165 countries analyzed. Much of this progress is associated with Mexico’s Oportunidades Program. The ten countries that did better than Mexico include China (6.3%), Brazil (5.5%), and Vietnam (4.3%). Fifteen countries suffered increases in malnutrition during the 20 year period, including Somalia (6.3%/year), Afghanistan (1.6%/year) and Yemen (1.0%/year).

On the other hand, the study points out that, given its level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, Mexico’s level of malnutrition is higher than it should be. Other under-performers include the USA, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa and Venezuela. These countries tend to have very inequitable distributions of income. Surprisingly, Brazil, with one of the worst levels of income inequality, was among the group of countries with lower malnutrition than expected given their GDP per capita. Other over-performers include Chile, Ukraine, China and Vietnam. Obviously, in all countries malnutrition is much worse among the poor.

The study divides the 165 countries into the three Tiers used by the United Nations. The Tiers are labeled I-“more developed”, II – “less developed” and III – “least developed”. Tier I is limited to Japan and European countries. Mexico is one of 80 countries in Tier II (“less developed” countries).

The UN has a “Women’s Health Index” for Tier II, comprised of lifetime risk of maternal death, percent of women using modern contraception, percent of births attended skilled attendant, and female life expectancy at birth. Within this group, Mexico ranks 19th in “Mother’s (Health) Index” compared to Cuba (ranked 1st), Argentina (4th), Brazil (12th), China (14th), South Africa (33rd), Turkey (47th), Iran (50th), Philippines (52nd), Indonesia (59th), Saudi Arabia (63rd), Egypt (65th), Guatemala (68th), India (76th), Pakistan 78th) and Nigeria (80th).

The differences between ranks appear to overstate the real differences. For example, the scores on the individual variables for Mexico (19th) and Argentina (4th) are relatively close. The chance of maternal birth-related death is one in 500 for Mexico versus 600 in Argentina. In Mexico 95% of births are attended by a trained worker compared to 98% in Argentina. Two thirds (67%) of Mexican women use modern contraception methods compared to 64% in Argentina. Life expectancy for women is 80 years in both countries.

The UN “Children’s Health Index” for Tier II is comprised of under age five mortality rate, percent of children under 5 moderately or severely underweight for age, gross primary enrollment ratio, gross secondary enrollment ratio and percent of population with access to safe drinking water.

Mexico ranks 18th among Tier II countries in terms of “Children’s (Health) Index” compared to Cyprus (1st), South Korea (2nd), Brazil (7th), Argentina (8th), Turkey (10th), Egypt (21st), Iran (26th), China (34th), South Africa (56th), Guatemala (63rd), Philippines (64th), Indonesia (70th), Pakistan (76th), India (77th) and Nigeria (82th). Here again, the differences between ranks appear to overstate the real differences.

While Mexico has made impressive progress concerning mother’s and baby’s health, it still lags behind Argentina and Brazil not to mention virtually all European countries. The biggest concern is rural areas of Mexico, especially southern Mexico, which seriously trail urban Mexico in terms women’s and child’s health. For example, infant mortality rates are highest in Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, followed by Veracruz, Hidalgo and Puebla. On the bright side, rural areas are making great progress thanks to programs like Oportunidades.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Net migration flow from Mexico to the USA falls close to zero or has possibly reversed

 Books and resources, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Net migration flow from Mexico to the USA falls close to zero or has possibly reversed
Apr 262012
 

The following are extracts from the text of a press release from the Pew Hispanic Center entitled “Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less“, by Jeffrey Passel, D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera:

The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries. The report is based on the Center’s analysis of data from five different Mexican government sources and four U.S. government sources. [see original article for sources]

The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • In the five-year period from 2005 to 2010, about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States and about 1.4 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children moved from the United States to Mexico.
  • In the five-year period a decade earlier (1995 to 2000), about 3 million Mexicans had immigrated to the U.S. and fewer than 700,000 Mexicans and their U.S. born-children had moved from the U.S. to Mexico.
  • This sharp downward trend in net migration has led to the first significant decrease in at least two decades in the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants living in the U.S.—to 6.1 million in 2011, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007.
  • Mexicans now comprise about 58% of the unauthorized immigrants living in the United States. They also account for 30% of all U.S. immigrants.
  • Apprehensions of Mexicans trying to cross the border illegally have plummeted by more than 70% in recent years, from more than 1 million in 2005 to 286,000 in 2011—a likely indication that fewer unauthorized immigrants are trying to cross.
  • As apprehensions at the border have declined, deportations of unauthorized Mexican immigrants—some of them picked up at work or after being arrested for other criminal violations—have risen to record levels. In 2010, nearly 400,000 unauthorized immigrants—73% of them Mexicans—were deported by U.S. authorities.
  • Looking back over the entire span of U.S. history, no country has ever sent as many immigrants to this country as Mexico has in the past four decades. However, when measured not in absolute numbers but as a share of the immigrant population at the time, immigration waves from Germany and Ireland in the late 19th century equaled or exceeded the modern wave from Mexico.

– – – end of quotations from press release – – –

Related posts:

Jan 092012
 

Mexico’s 2010 census found that 961,121 individuals living in Mexico had been born outside the country. In 2000 there were only about half as many (492,617). The 2010 figure is less than 1% of Mexico’s total population of 112 million. (Compare Canada where 21% are foreign-born and USA where 13% are foreign born). Of the total number of foreign-born residents in Mexico, 76.6% were born in the USA. Sadly, INEGI has not released any information relating to the country of birth of current residents who were born in countries other than the USA.

The map below shows the total number of foreign-born residents for each state.

Map of foreign-born residents of Mexico in 2010

Foreign-born residents of Mexico in 2010. Credit: Tony Burton/Geo-Mexico.

As can be seen on the map, the states with most foreigners are Baja California (about 123,000), Jalisco (84,000), Chihuahua (80,000), the Federal District (72,000) and Tamaulipas. The two states with fewest are Tlaxcala and Tabasco. (These are absolute numbers, and are heavily influenced by the relative size of each state).

Which states experienced the largest increases in foreigners between 2000 and 2010? The number of foreigners grew fastest in those states with relatively few foreigners in 2000, namely Hidalgo (up 402% over the decade), Tlaxcala (333%), Tabasco (281%), and Veracruz and Oaxaca (both with 272%).

Related posts:

Are homicide rates in Mexico increasing? Perhaps, but…

 Other  Comments Off on Are homicide rates in Mexico increasing? Perhaps, but…
Aug 252011
 

This question is far more complicated to answer than might initially appear. To start with there are two primary sources of homicide data in Mexico which provide very different results and vary significantly from state to state and year to year.  The National System of Public Security (SNSP) compiles homicide statistics from police reports and investigations.  The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) obtains homicide data from death certificates reported through the Ministry of Health. For 2010, SNSP reported 35,053 homicides in Mexico, while INEGI – Reporta el INEGI más de 24 mil muertes en 2010 – reported 24,374 homicides.

For a very interesting comparison (in Spanish) of trends over time for these two data sources, including a detailed look at the trends in some individual states, see:

For two earlier posts using SNSP data, see:

What factors may explain why the data is so different?

The terminology associated with homicides is very complex. This is equally true in English and Spanish. Even the basic subcategories do not necessarily match closely from the legal system in one country to that in another. Legal definitions and classifications depend in part on subjective decisions by officials concerning such things as the perpetrator’s motive, intent and state of mind.

In general terms, homicide (homicidio) means the deliberate killing of one person by another. A homicide may be either an:

  • intentional homicide or murder (homicidio doloso) or an
  • involuntary homicide, negligent homicide or case of manslaughter (homicidio culposo)

In some jurisdictions, intentional homicides are further divided into such categories as “first degree murder” and “second degree murder”.

The data associated with homicides are at least as complicated as the legal definitions. Statistics originating from police records will never exactly match those coming from death certificates or public records. For instance, some individuals may have been recorded originally as dying from accidents, natural causes or suicide on their death certificates, but then shown later to have been intentionally killed (murdered) and therefore counted in police records as murder victims. There are numerous possible scenarios in which the police data will differ from the data recorded on death certificates.

Differences in terminology, definitions and application may explain some of the differences in the two data sets, but is very unlikely to explain 100% of such significant differences, so care is needed before drawing any conclusions about Mexico’s homicide rate.

What do the figures for homicides suggest?

In 2000, INEGI, Mexico’s National Statistics Agency, recorded 10,743 homicides in Mexico. This number dropped gradually to 8,897 in 2007 before jumping up to 14,006 in 2008, 19,803 in 2009 and leaping  23% in 2010 to 24,374. Current information suggests the number of homicides will be at least as high in 2011.

The SNSP data have become significantly higher than INEGI data in recent years. They also show an increase in the number of homicides in 2010 (compared to 2009), but of only 11%.  Both data sets indicate a rapid increase. This is especially troublesome given that murder rates had declined rather steadily up until the “drugs war” started in earnest in 2007.

If we average the INEGI and SNSP numbers, it suggests that the overall 2010 homicide rate was about 27 per 100,000 population.

How does Mexico’s murder (intentional homicide) rate compare to that in other countries?

Wikipedia’s list of intentional homicide (murder) rates claims that Mexico’s murder rate in 2010 was 15 per 100,000. SNSP data for Mexico show 2010 figures of 18 per 100,000. Either of these figures is very high compared to Canada (1.6 per 100,000), Peru (3.2) or the USA (5). On the other hand, Mexico’s homicide rate is rather low compared to Honduras (78), El Salvador (65), Venezuela (48), South Africa (34) and Brazil (25). In 2007, Mexico’s murder rate was about 8.4 per 100,000, very close to the world average.

How many of Mexico’s murders are drug-war related?

Data released last January by the Mexican government indicated that drug-war deaths increased in 2010 by 5,659 from 9,614 to 15,273. These data suggest that 63% of Mexico’s intentional homicides in 2010 were related to drug violence compared to only 49% in 2009, 28% 2007 and roughly 10% in 2006. In fact, non-drug-war-related intentional homicides in Mexico appear to have declined 11% from 10,189 in 2009 to 9,101 in 2010, less than the total number of homicides in any year from 2000 through 2006.

This brings us back to our original question, “Are homicide rates in Mexico increasing?” Yes, they are increasing, but only as a result of the much publicized “war on drugs”. It is likely that if there was no drugs war, then Mexico’s homicide rate would be continuing to decline, consistent with its long-term trend.

Related posts, relying on data issued by the Office of the President of Mexico:

The Transnational Metropolitan Areas of Mexico-USA

 Other  Comments Off on The Transnational Metropolitan Areas of Mexico-USA
Aug 092011
 

Mexico shares a 3,169 km (1,969 miles) border with the USA. This is one of the most heavily guarded and frequently patrolled  land borders in the world, and a rare example of a land border that separates two countries with very different levels of economic development. These differences in development have, of course, prompted many Mexicans to migrate to the USA, either as seasonal or permanent migrants, and whether “legal” or undocumented.

Some regional geographers have even proposed that a regional division of North America should include a distinctive “border region”,  an international region straddling the boundary and including all border crossings and many notable cities. This region experienced rapid economic growth following the signing of NAFTA, when many companies moved to northern Mexico, setting up maquiladora manufacturing plants. The border area has long been a major focus of drugs-smuggling, with border transport of illegal narcotics getting ever more inventive. In recent years, sadly, this same area has become the scene of some of the worst drugs-related violence in the world.

Population of Mexico-USA Transnational Metropolitan Areas.

Population of Mexico-USA Transnational Metropolitan Areas. Credit: Tony Burton; all rights reserved

The map shows the 2010 population of the major transnational metropolitan areas of Mexico-USA. The diameter of each circle represents the combined population of the twin cities that have grown up either side of the border. The pattern closely reflects the volumes of overland transport links (road and rail) between the two countries, as well as of commuters who live one side of the border, but work on the other side and cross daily.

The easternmost part of the boundary between Mexico and the USA follows the Río Bravo (Grande). Inevitably, there have been disputes when the river changed its course. Part of the western boundary follows the course of the Colorado River, from which so much water is taken that it now rarely flows into its delta region in Baja California. All the varied boundary and water-rights treaties and agreements between Mexico and the USA are decided via the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Related posts:

Aug 062011
 

The 2010 censuses in the USA and Mexico have led to numerous reports on either side of the border. This post looks mainly at recent reports from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of Pew Research Center, which describes itself as”a nonpartisan ‘fact tank’ that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.”

The total US population in 2010 was 308.7 million. The Pew report entitled U.S. Hispanic Country of Origin Counts for Nation, Top 30 Metropolitan Areas says the the USA had 50.5 million Hispanics in 2010, including 31.8 million of Mexican origin (63% of all Hispanics). [The categories are based on self-described family ancestry or place of birth in response to questions in the 2010 Census and the 2009 American Community Survey.] The population of Mexican-origin grew by 54% (11.2 million) between 2000 and 2010. Mexicans are the dominant Hispanic group in many major metropolitan areas, from Los Angeles to Chicago, and San Antonio to Atlanta, with some exceptions in the East, including Miami (Cubans) and New York (Puerto Ricans).

The report is accompanied by detailed statistical profiles, including Statistical Profile: Hispanics of Mexican Origin in the United States, 2009 that provides a concise summary of all the key data about the Mexican diaspora in the USA.

The Pew Hispanic Center has also updated its interactive maps and database on the USA’s Latino population. Data can be viewed by county for 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2009 and reveal the shifting patterns of residence of the Hispanic population since 1980.

Another Pew report, The Mexican-American Boom: Births Overtake Immigration shows that, since 2000, births have overtaken immigration as the main driver for the dynamic growth of the Mexican population in the USA. This is because:

  • Mexican-Americans are younger (on average) and have higher fertility than other US groups, and
  • The numbers of Mexicans migrating to the USA has fallen. Mexico’s 2010 census revealed that emigration from Mexico to the USA has dropped significantly in recent years, from an average of 480,000/year in 2000—2005 to around 145,000/year for 2005—2010.

Hispanics in the USA lag behind the rest of the population in terms of education. For example, only 9% of Mexicans in the USA aged 25 and over have at least a  Bachelor’s degree, compared with 13% of all Hispanics in the USA and over 20% for the US population as a whole. This is reflected in median earnings, where the average personal earnings for Mexicans in the USA aged 16 and over was $20,000 in 2009, compared to $28.900 for the US population as a whole.

A Presidential Advisory Commission has been formed to look at ways to improve the academic achievement of Hispanics, the largest and fastest-growing minority in the public education system.

The growing number of Hispanics in the USA has meant that Hispanics are now looking to have a greater say in politics. This has led to the formation of the Tequila Party, a nonpartisan movement launched on 5 May (Cinco de Mayo) 2011. Their first political rally, a call to “get out and vote”, accompanied by mariachis, was held in Tucson, Arizona.

How will reduced out-migration impact Mexico’s total population?

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on How will reduced out-migration impact Mexico’s total population?
Jul 192011
 

As described in an earlier post –Is massive Mexican migration to the USA a thing of the past?– we examined a 6 July 2011 New York Times article which indicated that Mexican migration to the USA had slowed to barely a trickle. If this is correct, Mexico’s population will be considerably higher in future years. This post estimates what this impact will be.

In another post –Projecting Mexico’s population: when, if ever, will it stop growing? – we incorporated the results of Mexico’s 2010 census and 2008 migration estimates into the most recent official population projection available from the Mexican Government’s CONAPO (Spanish acronym for National Population Commission). This analysis indicated that Mexico’s population would peak at 140.5 million in 2043, rather than the 130.3 million indicated in the older CONAPO projection.

If net migration becomes zero in the future, as suggested in the New York Times article, Mexico’s population will peak at 149.3 million in 2051. If net migration in future years is between the 2008 estimate of 203,000/year and zero, say 100,000/year, then the Mexican population will peak at 144.9 million in 2049. Clearly, the variation in these projections of almost nine million (149.3 verses 140.5) is quite significant. Given these different projections, our current thinking is that Mexico’s population will probably peak at around 145 million about mid-century.

Though population projections based on birth and deaths rates tend to be fairly accurate, net migration projections are far more precarious. Actual net migration between the two countries will depend on a wide range of future socio-economic variables for both countries. The most obvious of these variables will be fertility rates, growth of the working age population, education opportunities, economic growth, trade regulations and trends, job availability, unemployment rates, and personal preferences of both workers and retired people. There undoubtedly will be surprises such as technology changes or climate change. Some of these may have very profound impacts on migration, and therefore on total population levels.

Migration between Mexico and the USA is the focus of chapters 26 and 27 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Explore the book using Amazon.com’s Look Inside feature; buy your copy today!

Jul 112011
 

Many Chicano activists refer to Mexicans as “La Raza”, literally “the race”. “Dia de la Raza” is celebrated on Columbus Day (October 12) as the day the Mexican indigenous population started their resistance against the European invasion.

Racial classification in colonial times

Racial classification in colonial times (Click to enlarge)

The term “La Raza” derives from a 1948 book “La Raza Cósmica.” The author Jose Vasconcelos’ thesis is that Mexicans (who he defines as a combination of indigenous and European bloodlines) are a new superior race. In developing his thesis, Vasconcelos draws upon many concepts including Marxism; he felt Europeans were too materialistic and capitalistic. He suggested that Mexicans have evolved (à la Darwin) into a new race that would be a world leader in the years ahead. The Government of Mexico tacitly agreed with this approach which engendered national pride. It was also consistent with the government’s post Mexican Revolution view that all ethnic groups should be combined into a common Mexican national identity.

According to the 2010 census, about 15% consider themselves indigenous, though about 58% of these do not speak any indigenous language. Assuming the “white” and “other” categories are still about 10% and 2% respectively, this suggests that today about 73% are mestizos. Almost all people in Mexico refer to themselves simply as “Mexicans”, not as indigenous Mexicans or mestizos or whites.

Vasconcelos’ “Raza Cósmica” and most Mexicans overlook the historical fact that Mexicans have an important African heritage. Between 100,000 to 200,000 African slaves were brought into Mexico during the 16th through 18th centuries, nearly a quarter the number brought to the USA. In 1646 there were 35,000 African slaves in Mexico, more than 2.5 times the white population [see Blacks outnumbered Spaniards in Mexico until after 1810]. These slaves represented about 12% of the total population, roughly equal to the percentage of slaves in the USA before 1860.

Mexico’s second president, Vicente Guerrero, whose mother was partially Black, abolished slavery in 1829. Thousands of Blacks moved into Mexico from the USA before it abolished slavery in 1865. However, today there are very very few black faces in Mexico. One can spend weeks in Mexico’s major cities without seeing a Black Mexican. If one pays close attention, they can identify people of African heritage in a few selected communities in Veracruz and along the Costa Chica in Guerrero and Oaxaca [Bobby Vaughn’s homepage: Afro-Mexicans of Costa Chica ].

What happened to all the Blacks in Mexico?  [Blacks in Mexico] In a word they assimilated by having offspring with other racial groups. In colonial times, the Catholic Church went to great lengths to categorize intermixed races for marital and baptism purposes:

The terminology for racial mixes

Complex terminology for racial mixes

Before too long, nobody could keep all the combinations straight! Eventually, everyone of mixed race was considered a mestizo. The African portion was purposely or accidentally dropped.

Modern research, based on DNA, indicates that Mexican mestizos are genetically about one-eighth African [mtDNA Affinities of the Peoples of North-Central Mexico]. While Brazil is often identified as the world’s foremost melting pot, the evidence suggests that in Mexico the races have melted more than in any other country.

While there are very few black faces in Mexico, there is a great deal of African heritage represented in art, music, dance, food, and even in fishing and agricultural practices. Did you know that the popular Mexican song “La Bamba” recorded by Richie Valens, Los Lobos and others can be traced back to the Bamba district of Angola? As part of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ famous voyage, the Government of Mexico finally acknowledged officially that Africa was Mexico’s “Third Root”.

Mexico’s role in the birth control revolution

 Other  Comments Off on Mexico’s role in the birth control revolution
Jun 212011
 

The oral contraceptive pill, often referred to simply as “the Pill” will be officially sixty years old on October 15, 2011. In the words of The Economist: it “was arguably the first lifestyle drug to control a normal bodily function—fertility—rather than a dread disorder. It transformed the lives of millions and helped reshape the role of medicine in reproduction.” Its social impact was massive, helping to foment the sexual and feminist revolutions.

From a geographic perspective, the Pill coincided with ever-increasing concern about the rate of world population growth, and its impact on resources –  the start of an era which led to such seminal works as The Population Bomb and The Limits of Growth.

Initially, the development of the Pill was met by medical, religious and social furor, much of which has since subsided. Even though its popularity has declined since the 1960s, because of concerns about possible side effects, it is estimated that it is still used, in one form or another, by more than 80 million women worldwide.

Curiously, the synthetic female sex hormone called norethindrone was first synthesized from, believe it or not… Mexican-grown yams!

Equally interestingly, the Pill was not developed in a huge laboratory belonging to a major pharmaceutical company but in a relatively humble laboratory in Mexico City, belonging to a small company called Syntex. Syntex specialized in making steroids from Mexican yams, using methods of synthesis invented by a maverick biochemist, Russell Marker. Marker had published various studies on diosgenin, a saponin isolated from a Mexican yam species of the genus Dioscorea, and had discovered how to synthesize the human hormone testosterone and progesterone from diosgenin. After having his proposals for the large-scale production of human steroids from diosgenin turned down by U.S. pharmaceutical companies, Marker moved to Mexico and began his own, home-based, small scale production. This was so successful that a new company, Syntex, was soon born, specifically to make steroids from Mexican yams. Syntex quickly became the world’s largest producer of progesterone, as well as making testosterone and the female hormone esterone.

Enter Carl Djerassi. Djerassi was an Austrian-born chemist who had completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin (1945) by researching the synthesis and transformation of steroids, including sex hormones. After working four years as a research chemist with CIBA Pharmaceutical Co. in Summit, New Jersey, he decided on a strategic move, in 1949, to join Syntex, in Mexico City, as associate director of chemical research.

At Syntex, Djerassi set out to see if diosgenin could be made to yield other steroids, which do not actually exist in nature, but which retain the biological activities of progesterone and are also orally active. The original aim of his team was to develop a drug for infertility and menstrual disorders that could be swallowed, as opposed to injected. Only two years later, on October 15, 1951, the group led by the then 28-year-old Djerassi, had synthesized norethindrone, a “super-potent orally active progestational agent”, which turned out to be the key ingredient in The Pill. (Chemically, norethindrone is 17a-ethinyl-19-nortestosterone; its generic name in Europe is norethisterone).

Later, the drug’s ability to suppress ovulation was demonstrated by Gregory Pingus at the Worcester Foundation in Massachusetts and clinical trials began. The rest, as they say, is history!

Djerassi is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University with an extremely distinguished scientific record, holding no fewer than 19 honorary doctorates in addition to numerous other honors. He is also one of only a handful of American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (1973, for the first synthesis of a steroid contraceptive, The Pill) and the National Medal of Technology (1991, for promoting new approaches to insect control).

In medicinal chemistry he will be forever associated with the initial developments in the fields of oral contraceptives (Norethindrone), antihistamines (Pyribenzamine) and topical corticosteroids (Synalar).

They say that the well-rounded man combines scientific inquiry with artistic appreciation, and Djerassi is certainly no exception, having turned, in later life, to science fiction writing, examining the human side of scientists and the personal conflicts they face in their quest for knowledge, personal recognition, and financial rewards. One of his plays, “An Immaculate Misconception,” premiered in 1998 at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has since been performed in London, San Francisco, Sweden, Vienna and Cologne. It was also broadcast on BBC World Service Radio in May 2000.

Sources:

The idea for this post originated from a review in The Economist (October 13, 2001) of two books: Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill (Lara Marks, Yale) and This Man’s Pill. Reflections on the 50th Birthday of the Pill. (Carl Djerassi, Oxford University Press).

Several chapters of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico discuss Mexico’s population dynamics and trends, and their implications for future development. An earlier post here links to a pdf file showing Mexico’s population pyramid in 1990, and the predicted pyramid for 2050.

Key geographic indicators from Mexico’s 2010 Census

 Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Key geographic indicators from Mexico’s 2010 Census
Jun 202011
 

This post summarizes some important characteristics of Mexico’s population and households, as revealed by the definitive results of the 2010 population census.

Literacy

5.3 million Mexicans over the age of 15 are unable to read and write a simple message (i.e. they are functionally illiterate). The highest rates of illiteracy are in Chiapas (17.0%), Guerrero (16.7%) and Oaxaca (16.3%), with the lowest rates in Mexico City (2.1%), Nuevo León (2.2%) and Baja California and Coahuila (both 2.6%).

Average Age

The average age of Mexico’s population has risen from 22 years in 2000 to 26 years in 2010. In 2010, 29% of the population was under the age of 15 (compared to 34% in 2000) and 6.3% was in the 65+ age group (compared to 5.0% in 2000).

Dependency ratios

The dependency ratio of a population is worked out by comparing the number of people of working age (normally taken to be 15-64 years old) with the number of young people (under age 15) and elderly (65+ years old). The dependency ratio has shifted from 64 dependents in every 100 people (64/100) in 2000 to 55/100 in 2010. More significantly, of the 64 dependents in 2000, 56 were children and 8 were elderly, whereas of the 55 in 2010, 45 were children and 10 were elderly. This is a clear shift towards an “elderly-dependent” population.

Fertility and education

The 2010 census shows that women of child-bearing age (15-49) have had an average of 1.7 children each, compared to 2.0 children in 2000. The averages mask enormous differences in rates. For example, women with a senior high school (preparatoria) education have 1.1 children on average, compared with 2.5 children for women who only completed secondary school, 3.3 children for those who completed primary education, and 3.5 children for those without any formal education.

Household possessions

Almost all (93%) of Mexico’s 35.6 million households have at least one TV, 82.1% have refrigerators, 65% cell phones, 45% have a vehicle, 43% a fixed telephone line, 29% a computer, and 21% have Internet access.