At rank 29, Mexico’s status performance is poorly in almost all categories (no change relative to SGI 2009).
The country faces numerous problems, the most serious being the continuing war against illegal drugs trade and related violence, stagnating oil production, and the recession. An under-sourced state apparatus lies at the root of these problems.
Macroeconomic stability is greater than that observed among some members of the euro zone. But the Mexican economy has been hit by the economic crisis in the U.S. and also by the government’s inability to advance a reform of the state-owned oil company Pemex.
Despite a widespread unwillingness to pay taxes, the population looks increasingly toward the government to address growing demands for improvements in the health care system, education and infrastructure.
The quality of democracy in Mexico remains low (rank 29).
Mexico’s democratic institutions are weakened by socioeconomic and ethnic inequality, and by oligopolistic political clan and family structures. The war on drugs poses a serious threat to the rule of law.
Corruption in the form of outright theft from the federal government is likely on the decline. However, corruption remains widespread at state and municipal levels and within the state oil company, Pemex.
At rank 21 (+2 ranks relative to SGI 2009), economic policy is a relative bright spot for Mexico, despite considerable structural weaknesses.
Despite considerable pressure, Mexico appears to have come through the recession comparatively well from a macroeconomic perspective. Progress on structural issues is slow, but policy-makers are working to address outstanding problems including excessive oligopolization and bureaucracy.
The informal economy remains significant in the country, creating a substantial division in the labor market.
Tax income is insufficient to provide for a reasonable level of public spending. The oil revenues that masked this problem for much of the past decade are now in decline.
With a rank of 27 on social policy, Mexico is both making strides and showing the strains of development.
The country remains characterized by profound inequality, but policy has made inroads into the society’s most serious problems.
Health care policy has not been successful in providing broad access. Private self-financed health care is largely limited to middle- and upper-class Mexicans.
Attitudes toward family structures are in the process of changing, but upper- and middle-class women have more freedom to pursue careers than do their poorer counterparts.
A major decade-old pension reform has functioned reasonably well, although pension funds have come under pressure associated with the recession.
Along with Turkey, Mexico is one of the least secure countries in the OECD, a situation due mainly to shortcomings in internal security.
Violence associated with President Calderón’s war against the drug cartels rose to unprecedented levels in recent years. Mexico is a major link in the transportation of cocaine from South America to the USA. Concerns regarding the threat of insurgency are growing.
The largest threat to external security involves potential spillover effects of Mexico’s internal problems in ways that could involve the USA. The murder of several US consular officials and their wives in March 2010 brought this issue to the forefront.
At rank 29, Mexico ranks among the OECD’s worst performers in terms of resource sustainability.
President Calderon has made protection of the environment one of his government’s priorities, and may be leading public opinion at this point. However, Mexico faces substantial environmental problems.
National spending on R&D is very low. The country’s industrial oligopolies fund their own research, while the very large number of tiny firms have little or no institutionalized access to state funding.
Education policy outcomes have improved, but from a low base. Public expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP has been on a rising trend.