Mexico

   

Social Policies

#41
Key Findings
Despite ongoing reforms addressing weaknesses, Mexico takes the lowest place in the SGI 2019 (rank 41) in the area of social policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.1 point relative to 2014.

Education outcomes are poor despite relatively significant spending. The incoming president is reversing his predecessor’s controversial education reforms, and has proposed making public education free. Income inequality is very high, with poverty strongly concentrated among indigenous and rural populations. A food-support program addressing extreme poverty has been very effective.

Health care quality varies widely. A voluntary health insurance policy that supports informal workers has helped reduce uninsured rates from 50% to 21.5% in 2017. Family policy is minimal. Urban areas are supportive of women’s rights, but poorer women have fewer labor-market opportunities. The strong demand for early child care and preschool services is unmet.

Only a minority of the population is covered by pensions, but a pension reform has been promised. Integration policy is virtually nonexistent. Drug cartels are responsible for widespread and brutal crimes. The new government is creating a national guard to combat the cartels, headed by the military. The high number of disappeared and probably murdered women is a serious problem.

Education

#37

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
5
Mexico’s education system is relatively weak despite significant public investment in the sector. According to the 2017 OECD’s Overview of the Education System, education spending in Mexico in 2014 (last year with available data) was 5.4% of the country’s GDP. While this is slightly over the OECD’s average of 5.2%, it is below other Latin American countries like Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Moreover, the per student expenditure of Mexico ($3,611 in 2015) is the lowest of all OECD countries. This can explain to a great extent why student performance is lower than in most other OECD countries, including Chile (the other Latin American OECD member). Also, there are strong regional differences in education and some states (e.g., Guerrero) are continuously failing to cope with national minimum standards in education at the primary and secondary levels.

The problem, therefore, appears to be related to resource allocation rather than funding per se. Too much is spent on salaries in contrast to capital spending and an excessive share of the budget is spent in an unaccounted for fashion. Aiming to mitigate the strong political influence of the teachers’ union on the Education Ministry, the outgoing Pena Neto government’s recent reforms aimed at facilitating a meritocracy in the teaching profession. However, the reform still lags behind expectations. It created a national organization that would implement periodic evaluations on teacher performances. This was definitely a step in the right direction as it renders teachers and the union accountable for the quality of their teaching. It has also faced severe criticism in several areas. The most relevant is related to evaluation instruments that fail to account for the obstacles faced by teachers in the most rural and deprived areas of the country. Furthermore, investigations revealed that the Education Ministry spent a lot more money on communications than on teacher’s training, which undermined the credibility of the reforms.

Some critics argue that the reform’s goal is to undermine teachers’ unions across the country and increase the centralized control of education. On the other hand, some criticism has been addressed to the remaining power of the teachers’ union to control the allocation of positions among teachers. Until she was jailed on corruption charges, teachers’ union leader Elba Esther Gordillo was considered politically untouchable as she controlled many votes. However, she was recently released to continue her sentence in home confinement. The same day she was released, the PRI formalized a coalition with Panal (New Alliance Party), which was close to Gordillo and the SNTE union. In August 2018, she was absolved of the corruption charges.

There is evidence of the union collecting salaries for nonexistent teachers. One of the provisions of the reform requires the National Statistics Institute to ascertain how many teachers are actually employed by the Mexican state. Another creates a National Institute for Education Evaluation, which will take on the functions of an inspectorate – tasks for which the union was previously responsible. Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), promised during his campaign that he would replace the current reform proposal with his own and increase public education spending. The newly elected president is undoing the controversial education reforms launched by his predecessor, which sparked violent protests by teachers. AMLO has proposed a new plan that would scrap teacher evaluations and make public education free.

Private education is generally of much higher quality in Mexico. At every level, privately educated students typically outperform students enrolled in public schools. The private-education sector accounts for 1.4% of GDP in comparison to the state’s 5.4%, much of this being spent at the secondary or university level.

While the overall scenario is not positive, there have been improvements worth mentioning in the past couple of years, including an increase in the percentage of students pursuing STEM degrees, an increase in the share of four-year-olds enrolled in preschool education and slight but steady increases in teachers’ wages.

Citations:
http://gpseducation.oecd.org/CountryProfile?primaryCountry=MEX&treshold=10&topic=EO
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/21/release-of-mexican-union-boss-a-sign-of-the-times-for-pena-nieto
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/mexico-education-reform-controversy-presidential-election
https://www.latinnews.com/component/k2/item/77342.html?archive=33&Itemid=6&cat_id=813765:mexico-education-reform-under-threat

Social Inclusion

#38

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
4
Mexico is a socially hierarchical society along a number of dimensions: educational, racial and financial. While democratization has somewhat reduced the most flagrant social divisions, Mexican governments have not been capable or willing to bring substantial change. Moreover, the Mexican state is too weak to carry out major social reforms and there is strong resistance against wealth redistribution. Among OECD countries Mexico has one of the highest income concentration indexes, with a Gini coefficient of 0.43 in 2016 (according to the World Bank).
Nevertheless, there is some evidence that public policy has improved the distribution of income in Mexico during the last decade. The Gini coefficient has come down slightly. In addition, social and political processes have become more open.

A government policy to address extreme poverty and the lack of adequate sources of food has been effective since 2012, called the Cruzada Nacional Contra el Hambre with its Food Support Program. The policy was intended to reach more than seven million people and has been praised for its effectiveness. It created a database of beneficiaries who were not receiving cash transfers through other government agencies. Nonetheless, in an official report from 2018, CONEVAL noted that the number of poor people had increased from 49.5 million in 2008 to 53.4 million in 2016. The organization has warned that the total of 6,491 social programs – which are carried out by national, regional and local administrations – should be critically reviewed. Poverty is highly concentrated among indigenous and rural populations, indicating another layer of inequality in Mexico. For this reason, there are generally strong regional inequalities in terms of the extent of poverty.

Against this background, it is expected the new government of AMLO will focus on improving social inclusion, a central promise of the new president.

Citations:
http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/sociedad/aumenta-la-cantidad-de-pobres-en-mexico-coneval
https://data.oecd.org/inequality/income-inequality.htm
https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/08/paridad-genero-congreso-mujeres/

Health

#34

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
5
Overall, public spending on health care is comparatively high but the quality of health care varies widely across Mexico, with different regions showing broad variation in the quality and variety of services available. Some U.S. citizens come to Mexico as health tourists, taking advantage of cheaper health care south of the border. Private, self-financed health care is largely limited to middle-class and upper-class Mexicans, who encompass roughly 15% of the total population, but receive about one-third of all hospital beds. Around one-third of the population (most of whom work in the formal sector) can access health care through state-run occupational and contributory insurance schemes such as the Mexican Social Security Institute (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) and the State Employees’ Social Security and Social Services Institute (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado, ISSSTE). These are based on automatic contributions for workers in the formal sector and, in practice, work reasonably well, although with some variation across different parts of the country. The system has been decentralized to the states. In 2016, a National Agreement Toward Health Service Universalization was signed, which aims to ensure portability across providers.

Public health issues are aggravated by the lack of access to quality health services. Though most Mexicans are affiliated with the different sources of health care providers, including public and private, there are still issues of quality that negatively affect public health. For example, with some 13 million Mexicans suffering from diabetes, the country has one of the highest rates of diabetes among all OECD countries. The lack of sufficient health care and infrastructure means that diabetes patients suffer from several complications.

The government has been attempting to make health care more affordable and extend it to more people outside the formal sector. In order to extend the insurance principle, in 2003 the government has set up the so-called Popular Insurance (Seguro Popular) program, which is open to contributors on a voluntary basis, with means-tested contributions from citizens supplemented by substantial government subsidies in order to encourage membership. According to experts, the program was widely successful. By 2017, the percentage of uninsured people had decreased from 50% to 21.5%. However, there are still substantial problems in terms of funding and serious transparency deficiencies persist. During the presidential election campaign, reform of the health system was not a major issue. The newly elected president made rather vague suggestions, although his general position is to make the health system more inclusive.

Citations:
http://www.oecd.org/mexico/Health-Policy-in-Mexico-February-2016.pdf
http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/95/6/17-020617/en/
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/latamcaribbean/2018/07/19/big-promises-few-details-the-uncertain-future-of-mexican-healthcare-under-amlo/

Families

#40

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
4
As in most other areas of Mexican social policy, social divisions are pronounced in the area of family policy. On the one hand, educated and urban Mexicans are broadly supportive of women’s rights, as is the political class. Recent political reforms require registered political parties to have a quota of women included as a part of their election slates. In addition, educated women are increasingly participating in the labor market and quite a large number of professionals are women. However, women are strongly underrepresented in top business positions. Less than 10% of seats on boards are held by women, a low level compared to other OECD countries, providing a strong argument in favor of at least temporary gender quotas.

With regard to the poorer segments of the population, gender equality is progressing even slower. Poorer Mexicans tend to have larger families and face fewer opportunities for women in the labor market. Also, old-fashioned “macho” and conservative Catholic attitudes from the past make it harder for lower-class women to progress. Moreover, lower-class women are more active in family businesses and in the informal economy, where incomes tend to be lower, and where it is hard for them to access state benefits. The main problems facing working class women have to do with dysfunctions in public services including health, education and transportation. There is a huge demand for expanding early child care and preschool coverage and extending the length of paternity and maternity leaves. In 2014, Congress approved a bill reforming the Federal Law of State Workers, giving state employees a five-day paternity leave. While this reform aimed to promote gender equality, it has not been welcomed by Mexican feminist organizations, as it is far from the number of days currently afforded for maternity leave (60 days). Moreover, paternity leave policies are more an exception than a rule in Mexico and still regarded as unnecessary by most businesses and organizations. This reinforces a gender bias in child rearing and discrimination of women in the workplace.

In the early 2000s, SEDESOL created a program aimed at early childhood development that provide child care for children of men and women in poverty five days a week. Though the program is not universal, there is some evidence that it provides advantages to enrolled children, even if the extent of child care in comparison to OECD countries is quite low. This has become the closest to a child care policy for families without a formal job or a formal enrollment in one of the different social protection systems in Mexico providing child care services. Overall, the government needs to improve the enforcement of constitutional provisions against gender discrimination.

According to official records, more than 60% of women 15 years and older have experienced some type of violence in their lifetime. On average, seven women were killed in Mexico every day between 2013 and 2015. This is almost twice the average seen between 2001 and 2006. The problem is concentrated in a few regional states. The exceptionally high number of disappeared women in the northern state of Chihuahua and the central state of Estado de Mexico, many of whom are presumed to have been murdered, has led to the international use of the term “femicide” to describe this form of disappearance. Many of these disappeared women were likely the victims of sex crimes, but many more have been victims of family honor killings.

Citations:
http://www.inegi.org.mx/saladeprensa/aproposito/2016/violencia2016_0.pdf
http://www.animalpolitico.com/2014/03/permiso-de-paternidad-en-mexico-unas-mini-vacaciones-pagadas-de-5-dias/
https://ac.els-cdn.com/S1665114616301617/1-s2.0-S1665114616301617-main.pdf?_tid=be22bb40-e2cf-11e7-ae06-00000aab0f27&acdnat=1513476933_1b3cb11d76a482e57d9c4f638c2232f8
http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/six-states-account-for-40-femicides-mexico

Pensions

#32

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
5
Mexico is slowly shifting from a pensions system based on contributions and corporate identity to one that is more universalistic in character, operated by government-approved financial agencies called Afores. Some Mexican states have in recent years introduced noncontributory old-age pensions based on universal eligibility. A pension reform plan is now underway to introduce a universal old-age pension for Mexicans over the age of 65. Mexico is in a relatively advantageous position to introduce reform in that its birth rate peaked in the 1970s, which has led to a reduction in children’s demands on the public sector. At the other end of the demographic balance, Mexico still has a relatively low proportion of old people. As a result, Mexico’s dependent population is fairly small, indicating that a window for reform will open up in the coming years. As this comparatively privileged position will eventually change for the worse, the pressure to reform soon will increase. Conscious of this dynamic, Mexican governments have been continuously attempting to reform the pension system to increase coverage and quality. Due to a political blockade in the Senate such previous efforts have so far not been rewarded.

While improving, the current system is not robust enough to cope with the growing population of elderly people. Historically, Mexico’s pensions policy has been based on the principle of contributions, which has not provided any, let alone an adequate, safety net for the elderly poor. However, some parts of Mexico, notably the capital district, now have a limited old-age pension system based on a universal entitlement.

One of the key problems with the current pension system in Mexico is its low coverage: in 2016, only 27% of the working age population had a pension account, a rate below that of countries like Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay. Moreover, increasing mandatory contributions is not a viable solution in the Mexican context, as it would further incentivize informal employment. An increase in mandatory contribution would have to be accompanied by more comprehensive measures that account for the complexity of the Mexican labor market and the government’s fiscal capacity. The new finance minister, Carlos Urzua, announced a reform of the pension system that will be introduced during the new government’s six-year term. Urzua discussed the low employer and employee pension contributions that lag far behind other OECD countries in terms of the percentage of total wages.

Citations:
http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/urge-poner-en-agenda-reforma-de-pensiones.html
http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/economia/gobierno-de-amlo-promete-reforma-en-pensiones-en-cuatro-anos

Integration

#41

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
3
Mexican integration policy remains weak to nonexistent. The dominant cultural narrative in Mexico tends to assume that migration means emigration. Mexico was and remains a major source of emigration, but has not effectively addressed problems related to immigration that have been steadily increasing during the last 15 to 20 years. There are serious problems related to migrants entering Mexico from Central America, with most seeking entry to the United States and a minority wanting to stay in Mexico. Few are able to acquire formal documentation. In their desperation, such people are often preyed upon by criminals or even recruited into local drug gangs. Homicide rates are also high among this group. The Mexican authorities mostly do not welcome this kind of immigration and do their best to discourage it. However, there is no effective integration, transit or migration policy to deal with these issues. Mexican authorities also downplay the incidence of criminal attacks on Central American immigrants, although the international media has cast a spotlight on this population’s predicament.

International media also covered the situation of a caravan of immigrants that travelled from Honduras, in late 2018, and attempted to pass through Mexico to the U.S. border. Since the U.S. government is pursuing a very strict immigration regime under President Trump, there is a risk that illegal camps of migrants will form at the Mexico-U.S. border, which could grow rapidly. This could provoke strong negative reaction in the population.

Additionally, since 2016 a wave of Haitian immigrants increased pressure on northern cities to guarantee their safety while they waited to cross the border to the U.S. In 2017, many of those immigrants remained in Mexico as the U.S. stopped granting them immigration hearings. About 3,000 of them stayed in Mexico’s northern cities, supported by non-governmental organizations that maintain shelters. These organizations have also advocated for the respect of human rights and for the government to follow due process. However, this has not changed the securitized perspective the federal government holds on the issue. Most of the Haitians were deported back to Haiti.

More efforts are also needed in the integration of young “returnees:” young Mexican nationals or children of Mexican nationals who come to Mexico after living in the United States, either voluntarily or through deportation. This issue becomes particularly relevant as the Trump administration decided to terminate DACA. Many of these students are not fluent in Spanish and have problems integrating into Mexican schools since they have studied under a different school system utilizing different teaching and evaluation methodologies. The Mexican education system is not ready to provide sufficient resources to improve these students’ language skills and their sense of belonging. As the Trump administration tightens migration policies, Mexico can expect an increase in young returnees. It must be ready to successfully integrate them in the education system through specialized programs and resources.

Citations:
https://www.nytimes.com/es/2017/01/30/la-situacion-de-los-migrantes-en-la-frontera-norte-de-mexico-podria-convertirse-en-una-crisis-humanitaria/
https://elpais.com/internacional/2018/11/14/mexico/1542234347_711795.html

Safe Living

#41

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
2
Mexico has been among the most dangerous countries in the world and there have been no substantial improvement in recent years. The main reason for this high homicide rate is that Mexico has become a major center for the transit of illegal drugs to the United States. In brutal competition with one another, Mexico’s criminal gangs or cartels, have carried out horrific acts and killed thousands. Moreover, violence has become increasingly intertwined with local, regional and national politics. From a regional perspective, Mexico has only a slightly lower homicide rate than Honduras and Venezuela.

To solve the problem, Mexican governments have been actively fighting the drug mafia with military and security forces. However, the so-called war on drugs has actually contributed to an increase in the murder rate.
Mexico has improved the bureaucratic efficiency of some of its crime-fighting operations, but there are still huge problems. These problems include a lack of bureaucratic cooperation, rampant corruption within the security apparatus, the immense scale of criminal activity in Mexico and the infiltration of law enforcement agencies by organized crime. The National Security Commission has argued that the low wages paid to the security forces is one reason for this situation. Thus, one can say that internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens. This explains the proliferation of self-defense groups throughout the country and a lack of trust in the authorities, which are – especially at the local level – frequently infiltrated by organized crime.

More worrying still, the judicial system is not designed to convict powerful and wealthy criminals. It is too difficult to convict criminal suspects in Mexico who can afford wealthy lawyers. Additionally, Mexico has suffered several public scandals which have further damaged public confidence in the authorities. These scandals include prison escapes by high-profile criminals and unexplained massacres in rural areas. In at least part of its territory, Mexico is a failed state.

During the election campaign, the incoming government promised to gradually reduce the militarization of the fight against the drug cartels. Nevertheless, in November 2018 López Obrador announced a plan to create a new national guard which would also rely on military support. The new authority will have a body of 50,000 people headed by the military. In the election campaign, López Obrador spoke above all about solving the problem by tackling the social challenges confronting citizens. However, this approach would only address one root cause of the problem. The militarization of the conflict is a central problem.

Citations:
http://secretariadoejecutivo.gob.mx/docs/pdfs/cifras%20de%20homicidio%20doloso%20secuestro%20etc/HDSECEXTRV_062017.pdf
https://www.excelsior.com.mx/nacional/2018/02/05/1218312
https://es.insightcrime.org/noticias/analisis/3-preguntas-complejas-sobre-la-politica-de-seguridad-de-mexico-en-el-gobierno-de-lopez-obrador/
https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/amlo-update-sticking-military

Global Inequalities

#34

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
6
Regarding free trade, Mexico is supportive of open trade agreements and actively seeks good relations with any country that might counterbalance its heavy economic dependence on the United States. Mexico has also been active in financing international development, providing modest levels of foreign aid and investing in triangular cooperation. Moreover, foreign policy continues to embrace the topic of south-south-cooperation and supports regional development projects. The Mexican government has also been a supporter of the U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) and Agenda 2030, launched in 2015.

However, Mexico could do more to promote and advance social inclusion beyond its borders. The treatment of Central American immigrants needs to be greatly improved. Diplomatic relations between Mexico and its southern neighbors are very good, but there is room for improvement in trade treaties in the region and Mexico could lead efforts to increase the economic integration and global competitiveness of Latin America. An excessive dependence on trade with the United States has prevented Mexico from looking south.

However, apart from free trade and good relations with the southern neighbors, international relations and Mexico’s actions in multilateral organizations do not play a major role in Mexican politics. For that the internal problems of the country are too urgent.

Citations:
https://www.proceso.com.mx/518235/mexico-ante-la-situacion-internacional-de-2018
Back to Top