Slight decrease in the number of “Los Ninis” in Mexico

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on Slight decrease in the number of “Los Ninis” in Mexico
Feb 092015

Los ninis are young people (aged 15-29) that “ni trabaja, ni estudia” (neither work nor study). They have become the focus of much press attention in the past few years, often accompanied by the phrase “Mexico’s lost generation”.


According to a recent OECD report, “Education at Glance 2015”, two out of every ten Mexicans in the 15-29 age group neither studied nor worked in 2013, the latest year for which there is data. The report found that 22.3% of Mexican in that age category were ninis, a slight decrease compared to 25.0% in 2011. After population increase is taken into account, Mexico has about 200,000 fewer ninis than in 2011.

Mexico’s percentage of ninis is above the average for all 34 OECD member countries, and is the fifth highest among OECD members, after Turkey (31.3%), Greece (28.5 %), Spain (26.8 %) and Italy (26.1 %). Very few of Mexico’s 7.3 million ninis (only 3.8%) are technically “unemployed”; most ninis have not actively sought work and are therefore considered “inactive”.

In Mexico, most ninis are female. For example, in the 20-24 age group, around 10% of males are ninis, compared to 40% of females.

The figure of 7.3 million will no doubt again be disputed by Mexico’s Secretariats of Education (SE) and of Labor and Social Welfare. In 2011, the Secretariats issued a joint rebuttal of the OECD figure, and claimed that 78% of those reported by OECD as ninis were young married women, with children, who dedicated themselves to home-making. The Secretariats emphasized that the figures revealed a gender inequality in access to educational and economic opportunities, linked to cultural patterns where many young women still saw marriage and motherhood as their preferred or only option.

Related posts:

Marriage declining among Mexican couples

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May 312011

Mexican couples still prefer marriage over the alternatives, but not as strongly as in the past. According to the 2010 census, 40.5% Mexicans age 12 and over were married, down from 44.5% in 2000 and 45.8% in 2009. The 11% decline since 1990 does not sound like much, but is significant when the data are investigated more deeply.

Because the data include all Mexicans over age 12, it is not surprising that 35.2% were single in 2010, compared to 37.2% in 2000 and 40.6% in 1990. The 13% drop since 1990 in the percentage for singles is mostly a result of the relative decline in the total number of teenagers, most of whom are unmarried, as a consequence of the decline in fertility over the past few decades.

The most impressive growth was for “free union” couples, those living together but not married. In terms of population, the proportion went from 7.4% in 1990 to 10.3% in 2000 and 14.4% in 2010, almost double the 1990 level. If we compare married couples with those in free union, we get an even clearer picture of the trend. In 1990, 13.9% of all couples lived in a “free union”; this figure increased to 18.8% in 2000 and 26.2% in 2010.

While roughly three of every four couples in Mexico are married, this varies significantly from state to state. It is not surprising that the least Catholic state—Chiapas— has the most couples living in “free union” – 38.8%. Chiapas also is one the most heavily indigenous states. But even in Chiapas, over six in ten couples are married. Other states with high rates of “free union” couples are Baja California (35.5%), Nayarit (34.5%), Baja California Sur (34.4%) and Quintana Roo (34.4%), a state with relatively few Catholics and a substantial indigenous population. The most Catholic state of all—Guanajuato—has the fewest “free union” couples, only 13.4%. Other states with relatively few unmarried couples are Yucatán (14.1%), Zacatecas (15.3%), Nuevo León (15.6%) and Aguascalientes (16.0%).

The census also includes three additional categories which all have increased rather rapidly since 1990. Those widowed went from 3.6% in 1990 to 4.3% in 2000 and 4.4% in 2010. This probably is a function of increasing life expectancy and people living longer on their own after their spouse dies, especially if the death resulted from an accident or violence. Separation, though still rather rare, is becoming more common, increasing from 1.2% in 1990 to 2.6% in 2000 and 3.7% in 2010. Divorce is also quite uncommon but increasing, from 0.7% in 1990 to 1.0% in 2000 and 1.5% in 2010.

Mexico’s population is aging fast

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May 232011

Mexico’s population has aged significantly in the past two decades. In 2010, the median age was 26 years meaning that there were equal numbers of people above and below age 26. The median age in 2000 was 22 years while that in 1990 was only 19 years. Obviously, the number of older adults is growing much faster than the number of young adults and children. The Federal District has the highest median age by far with 31, followed by Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Veracruz with 27. At the other end are Chiapas with 22, Guerrero with 23, and Puebla, Guanajuato, Durango and Aguascalientes with 24.

In 2010, about 29.3% of the Mexican population was under age 15 compared to 34.1% in 2000 and 38.6% in 1990. On the other hand, the 2010 census indicates that 6.3% are over age 65, up from 5.0% in 2000 and only 4.2% in 1990. The proportion in this older age group increased 50% in the past two decades. These changes are quite dramatic and represent major demographic change. The trend is expected to continue and have significant implications for education and elder care systems.

The group in the middle, those between ages 15 and 65, has increased from 57.2% in 1990, to 60.9% in 2000 and 64.4% in 2010. This trend of increasing working age population contributes to greater economic growth as does the proportion of women entering the work force :

Of course, the growth in workforce can only contribute to economic growth if there are sufficient employment opportunities.

Mexico’s current age-sex structure is graphically presented in the 2010 population pyramid depicted in an earlier post:

More impacts of Mexico’s war against drug cartels

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on More impacts of Mexico’s war against drug cartels
May 162011

Drug trafficking is one of the North America’s major contemporary issues, with widespread ramifications not only for Mexico, but extending well beyond her national borders. This is the first of an occasional series of updates examining some of the numerous different effects of the war on drug-related violence on Mexican society, the environment and the economy.

How many members of Mexico’s military have lost their lives in the war against the cartels?

In “InSight Map: Counting Federal Casualties in Mexico”, Patrick Corcoran takes a look at the confusing statistics relating to the deaths of members of the military in Mexico. The number claimed by the government (470 federal forces killed since 2000) does not match any of the conflicting numbers released on separate occasions by the Defense Secretariat for the number of military personnel killed in the on-going war against the drug cartels.

Drug war violence has decreased press freedom in Mexico

Freedom House, in its annual report, says that Mexico has experienced one of the world’s most radical declines in press freedom. Mexico’s press is now categorized on the Press Freedom Index as “not free”, alongside press in Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela.

More than 60 journalists have been killed in Mexico in the last decade, including 10 in 2010. Many others have been kidnapped, or intimidated. Several journalists have sought asylum in the USA. Drug cartels have increasingly pressured local press and news stations to broadcast partisan material, regardless of its accuracy.

Earlier this year, several major media groups in Mexico agreed to de‑glorify drug trafficking by refusing to show any grisly photos or menacing messages. The pact has been heavily criticized in some sectors, however, mainly on the grounds that it downplays the gravity of the on-going violence.

New laws enacted to protect all migrants in Mexico

It is not only the USA that has problems coping with undocumented or unauthorized migrants. More than 300,000 immigrants pass through Mexico each year on their way from Central America to the USA. Mexico actively patrols its southern border to limit the number of Central Americans who succeed in reaching the interior of the country.

Now, a new federal law expressly recognizes and protects the human rights of all migrants in Mexico, regardless of their place of origin, nationality, gender, ethnicity, age and immigration status. The new law guarantees access to basic services such as health and education. It comes in the wake of the horrific discovery in northern Mexico in recent months of several mass graves of migrants, mainly originating from Central America. The graves are believed to be linked to people-trafficking operations, known to be a source of revenue for drug cartels.

Drug gangs and the price of limes

One unexpected by-product of Mexico’s on-going drug wars in January 2011 was a steep rise in the price of limes, a quintessential ingredient of Mexican food and drinks. Prices in Mexico City quadrupled to almost four dollars a kilo ($1.80 a pound).

The interesting story behind the sudden increase in lime prices is given by Nacha Cattan in The Christian Science Monitor. An accompanying graphic shows how drug traffickers intervened in the normal supply chain, “extorting farmers, attacking produce trucks, or causing more time‑consuming border inspections”.

Most of the limes sold during winter months come from the semi-tropical orchards around Apatzingán, a town in Michoacán, western Mexico. Local truckers have to pay drug gangs up to 800 pesos ($66) a truckload for safe passage. Thefts of fully-laden trucks rose 50% in some areas last year. Allegedly, the gangs also influence prices by limiting harvesting and restricting the operation of packing plants.

Fortunately for Mexican lime-lovers, the price of limes has since returned to normal, with drugs gangs switching their attention to the much more lucrative trade in avocados.

How long will drug-related violence in Mexico last?

Even the Public Security Secretary, Genaro García, has now stated publicly that Mexico’s war on drug cartels will not be over any time soon. He argues that Mexico’s campaign against the cartels is having success, but that organized crime and violence related to drug production and trafficking are unlikely to fall within the next seven years.

Previous posts about the geography of drug trafficking and drug cartels in Mexico:

Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico discusses drug trafficking in several chapters. A text box on page 148 looks at trends in the drug trafficking business and efforts to control it. Buy your copy today to have a handy reference guide to all major aspects of Mexico’s geography!