Mexico

   

Social Policies

#41
Key Findings
Despite ongoing reforms addressing weaknesses, Mexico takes the lowest place in the SGI 2020 (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 new president’s reversals of his predecessor’s education reforms retained key elements, while making education from age zero to three mandatory, and guaranteeing access to higher education. Greater funding is needed to support rising student populations.

Income inequality is very high, with poverty among indigenous and rural populations a serious problem. However, poverty rates have declined in recent years. A food-support program addressing extreme poverty has been very effective. Healthcare quality varies widely. Family policy is minimal. Urban areas are supportive of women’s rights, but poorer women have fewer labor-market opportunities.

The pension system is improving, but faces serious sustainability challenges. Integration policy is virtually nonexistent. Drug cartels are responsible for widespread and brutal crimes. The government has created a civilian-controlled national guard to combat cartels and block transit of illegal immigrants. The high number of disappeared and probably murdered women is a serious problem.

Education

#38

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, where further investment in different types of infrastructure is urgently needed. Aiming to mitigate the strong political influence of the teachers’ union on the Education Ministry, the outgoing Peña Nieto government’s recent reforms aimed at facilitating a meritocracy in the teaching profession. However, the reform still lags behind expectations. It created the Instituto Nacional para la Evaluación de la Educación (INEE), a national organization that would implement periodic teacher performance evaluations. Some critics argued that the reform’s goal was to undermine teachers’ unions across the country and further centralize education. On the other hand, the teachers’ union has been criticized for its control over the allocation of teaching positions. What is clear is that rising student numbers will require an increase in overall funding.

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. Mexico’s new president, López Obrador, promised during his campaign that he would replace the current reform proposal with his own and increase public education spending. Nevertheless, the new draft of the education reform retained a major part of his predecessor’s reform. As a result, he made the powerful Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), which had supported him in the election campaign, a political opponent. Elba Esther Gordillo, the long-time president of the other major teachers’ union Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE), described the new reform as “old wine in a new bottle.” After lengthy negotiations, however, the education reform was passed in May 2019. The reform eliminates the INEE, it establishes that initial education (from 0 to 3 years) is mandatory and that the state must guarantee access to higher education.

Higher education is faces several major challenges. Mexico’s student population increased from 2 million students in 2001 to 4.5 million in 2018. Universities need to adapt to this higher demand, and align study programs with the needs of a developing and diversifying economy. Nevertheless, the tertiary enrollment rate is still far below those of other major Latin American countries. As in most other countries in the region, private education is generally of much higher quality in Mexico. At every level, privately educated students typically outperform students enrolled in public schools.

Citations:
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264312548-en.pdf?expires=1574424513&id=id&accname=ocid49018577&checksum=4CF0AF65E466B51A5304F1BB3F2DE855
https://www.latinnews.com/component/k2/item/79850.html?archive=33&Itemid=6&cat_id=816958:mexico-new-ally-and-old-foe-give-lopez-obrador-headache
https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/05/15/mexico/1557936540_934347.html
https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/02/08/mexico/1549581066_521979.html
https://wenr.wes.org/2019/05/education-in-mexico-2

Social Inclusion

#37

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 0.48 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 two decades. The Gini coefficient has come down slightly.

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, National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) noted that the number of poor people had increased from 49.5 million in 2008 to 52.4 million in 2018. Nevertheless, the poverty rate decreased from 44.4% to 41.9% of the population. 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. Though recently there have been major achievements in fighting poverty in the northern half of Mexico, while the poverty rate has risen in southern states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Overall, extreme poverty has decreased over the last 10 years from 11% to 7.4%.

Improving the social situation of many Mexicans can be interpreted as a key goals of the new Mexican government. However, the government often has its hands tied in this regard. As such, a change would require stronger state tax revenues, which at present seems unlikely.

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/
https://www.latinnews.com/component/k2/item/81197.html?archive=33&Itemid=6&cat_id=818713:tracking-trends
https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/mexicos-presidents-have-failed-address-poverty-will-amlo-do-better

Health

#36

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 healthcare is comparatively high but the quality of healthcare 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 healthcare south of the border. Private, self-financed healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare and infrastructure means that diabetes patients suffer from several complications.

The government has been attempting to make healthcare 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.

In the first year of López Obrador’s new presidency, healthcare sector representatives and workers repeatedly complained about the austerity measures imposed by the government. This led among other things to the resignation of the head of the IMSS. Even though the government responded by increasing the healthcare sector’s budget, Health Minister Alcocer made it clear that the government would continue to fight against excessive prices and resource waste. Although he received broad support for this, patient representatives advocated for maintaining the current system and improving the supply of medication. However, it does seem that López Obrador’s austerity measures will hit the most vulnerable in society and people who live in remote areas the hardest.

In August 2019, President López Obrador announced a new program to improve the healthcare system. Furthermore, the Instituto de la Salud para el Bienestar was founded. This new institution is supposed to improve healthcare provision for citizens that are unable to access existing social security systems.

Citations:
http://www.oecd.org/mexico/Health-Policy-in-Mexico-February-2016.pdf
http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/95/6/17-020617/en/
https://www.latinnews.com/component/k2/item/80361.html?archive=33&Itemid=6&cat_id=817617:mexico-rowing-back-on-healthcare-sector-austerity
https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/amlos-false-sense-austerity

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 childcare 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 childcare 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 childcare in comparison to OECD countries is quite low.

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. It must be assumed that the number of unreported cases is much higher. 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.

In autumn 2019, President López Obrador presented a plan to tackle femicide. However, there are doubts that it is largely a statement of intent that lacks concrete measures. Meanwhile, the Proigualdad program, which includes far-reaching measures to achieve effective equality between men and women, and will be given a concrete budget, is still being prepared.

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
https://justiceinmexico.org/femicidesinmexico/
https://elpais.com/sociedad/2019/11/21/actualidad/1574372158_615125.html

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. 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 far from being sufficiently robust to be able 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 government announced a reform of the pension system that will be introduced during the new government’s six-year term.

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
https://www.forbes.com.mx/se-acerca-el-dia-d-para-el-sistema-de-pensiones/

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, but also from Haiti, and many Asian and African countries, 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.

The newly created National Guard was deployed to various highway checkpoints across Mexico to stop the transit of illegal immigrants on their way to the United States. Human rights organizations have complained about “practices outside the law,” which are applied to migrants.

Contrary to what emerges from the media, more Mexicans have been leaving the United States since 2008 than have emigrated to the United States. A particular problem is that of “returnees” (i.e., 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://apnews.com/4b37a351ad294a52b3834ba0c4a23e27
https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/extracontinental-migrants-latin-america
https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/protection-and-reintegration-mexico-reforms-migration-agenda

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, and the worst homicide rate of any OECD country. In Mexico, on average 96 murders happen per day, with more than 36,000 people killed in the first year of the presidency of López Obrador and a total of 250,000 people killed since the war on drugs began in 2006.

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 expensive 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 national guard, which will number 150,000 armed men at the end of his term in 2023. Consequently, the expected militarization of the conflict triggered numerous criticisms. After a wave of protests and a compromise with the Senate, the government announced that it would create a new police institution, the National Guard, which would be placed under civilian control, and act as an “inter-institutional coordination body” between the military and police. One of the first orders of the National Guard was to deploy guards along the border with Guatemala in order to control the flow of migrants into Mexico. However, it seems that despite the reform, the security situation under López Obrador has not improved and may get even more out of control in the near future.

Citations:
http://secretariadoejecutivo.gob.mx/docs/pdfs/cifras%20de%20homicidio%20doloso%20secuestro%20etc/HDSECEXTRV_062017.pdf
https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/06/30/mexico/1561915360_336017.html
https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-50100518

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. So far, it does not seem that there will be any substantial changes in this regard under the new government.

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