Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Despite its post-1990s budget stability, Mexico falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 30) with regard to economic policies. After gains last year, its score on this measure has fallen back to its 2014 levels.

Capable management has led to positive growth and controlled inflation rates. However, the country remains a low-skilled, export-oriented economy tied to the North American market.

The informal sector is large. Labor-market regulations have been significantly loosened. Though taxes are regarded as being too low, evasion remains significant. Revenue from oil exports, a significant contributor to government income, has fallen due to low prices and declining production. Prudent budget policies are the norm, though the decline in oil prices threatens this stability.

R&D funding is minimal. Dealing with financial inflows from illegal drug-related activities is a major challenge.

Social Policies

Despite ongoing reforms addressing weaknesses, Mexico takes the lowest place in the SGI 2016 (rank 41) in the area of social policies. After a decrease last year, its score recovered marginally this year, now reflecting a 0.2 point decline relative to 2014.

Education outcomes are poor. Reforms aiming to create a meritocratic teaching system have been weakened. Social division is substantial, and poverty has increased in recent years, due more to slowing growth than to public policy.

Health care quality varies widely. Formal workers generally have insurance, while policies increasingly extend coverage to informal workers. Family policy is minimal; urban areas are supportive of women’s rights, but poorer women have fewer labor-market opportunities. The high number of disappeared and probably murdered women is a serious problem.

A universal pension system is being introduced. Integration policy is virtually nonexistent. Drug cartels are responsible for widespread and brutal crimes.

Environmental Policies

Despite a growing awareness of environmental issues, Mexico receives a comparatively low ranking (rank 35) with respect to environmental policies. Its score in this area has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

A climate-change law went into effect in 2012, but implementation remains slow. Serious environmental problems persist, including the provision of clean water, air pollution in Mexico City and rural deforestation. The country is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Latin America. Policy enforcement is lax, and many companies do not comply with regulations.

The country is a leading actor on environmental policy within the region, but its reliance on gas and oil exports complicates its position.



Quality of Democracy

Struggling to contain corrosive organized-crime influences, Mexico receives a comparatively low score overall (rank 35) with regard to democracy quality. Its score in this area has declined by 0.1 point

Independent candidates are newly allowed in national elections, increasing choice but raising the risk of personalism. Elections are highly regulated to prevent drug-cartel influence. Parties are publicly financed, with tight spending restrictions. The media is independent of government, but security fears affect coverage of cartel corruption.

A regionally pioneering freedom-of-information act has broadly increased the amount of information available. The military and police forces violate civil rights, with courts failing to provide adequate protection. While overt discrimination varies by region, class lines closely track racial divisions.

Legal certainty is improving, but is undermined by drug-related violence. The Supreme Court has become more independent and assertive. Corruption is a severe problem at the local and regional level.



Executive Capacity

With a strong presidential system, Mexico falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 23) in the area of executive capacity. After a marginal gain last year, its score has fallen to 0.3 points below its 2014 level.

All presidents are required to submit a strategic plan coming into office; but planning more generally is regaining favor. Several very ambitious recent reforms will test planning capacities. The Finance and Interior ministries hold considerable power, while informal mechanisms are important for coordinating policy.

RIAs are common and of generally high quality. The government’s lackluster response to high-profile disappearances (and probably murders) has soured already-weak relations with civil society.

Implementation efficiency is undermined by financial shortcomings, local organizational weaknesses and high crime levels. Ministry monitoring of agencies is often weak for political reasons, and monitoring of the police and military is ineffective. Independent agencies are taking a growing role in policy implementation.

Executive Accountability

With mixed strengths and weaknesses, Mexico falls into the lower-middle ranks internationally (rank 27) with regard to executive accountability. Its score in this area has improved by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

While legislators’ resources are limited, a new law permitting reelection may strengthen legislative independence and oversight capabilities. The independent audit office is growing stronger. The ombudsman is well respected, though not powerful.

Policy knowledge varies by class and education level. Mexico City print publications are of high quality, but entertainment dominates TV and radio broadcasts. Fear of drug cartels inhibits journalists’ reporting on some issues, but the high level of insecurity has increased public demand for political information.

Employers’ associations are more sophisticated than trade unions. The NGO sector is fast maturing, with considerable personnel interchange with the government.
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