The Persistence of a Centennial Inequality
The Mexican people, their history and culture have four principle roots: the Amerindian descending from the civilizations that occupied the territories before the Spanish conquest from the XVI to the XVIII century; the Spanish – with other European cultures – first arriving with the conquest and continue arriving nowadays; the African civilizations which were brought mainly as slaves and subsequently rose in numbers along the Caribbean and Centro American civilizations; and the Asian civilizations which arrived in several migratory movements including the one of the Philippine people during the colonial period, and the one of the Chinese and Japanese people in the beginning of the 20th century.
The Mexicans with African and Asian origin have been continuously demanding acknowledgement, questioning the founding belief that nowadays “Mexican race” is a mixture of Spanish and indigenous civilizations only .
This predominant idea is also challenged by the reality: the Mexican society is structured as an economic pyramid in which the superior classes are mainly white people; the inferior classes are indigenous and African; and the middle classes are the Mestizo (combination of indigenous and Spanish people).
The states and municipalities with most severe rate of marginalization are the ones where the majority are indigenous and/or African populations. Child malnutrition, preventable diseases, no access to education or bad quality education and lack of services in general, prevent this situation from changing for the better soon. The public social assistance programs have been criticized for making beneficiaries too dependent on external intervention, for mismanagement of resources and for not reaching the set objectives, for manipulating the results of the programs and for misusing them for winning votes during elections.
In the OECD'S Basement
With population of 129 million, Mexico is the eleventh most populated country in the world. Only four of its 32 Federal entities combine one third of the population: Mexico City, the State of Mexico (which surrounds Mexico City, but it is a different political entity), the States of Jalisco and Veracruz. According to the Intercensal Population Survey 2015 conducted by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography (in Spanish: INEGI), Mexico’s average population density is 61 inhabitants per square kilometer, while Mexico City stands out with up to 6 thousand inhabitants per square kilometer.
Four out of every ten Mexicans live in poverty and and 23.2% of Mexicans live in rural areas according to the report “Medición de Pobreza en México 2016” (In English: Poverty Measurement in Mexico 2016) from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (In Spanish: CONEVAL) and according to the National Survey on Households 2017 from INEGI.
Mexico does not collect demographical data according to racial or ethnic group, which is why the fact that seven out of ten Mexicans are Mestizos is just an estimation. As far as language is concerned – and which one Mexicans considers as mother tongue – around 93% speak Spanish, which is constitutionally recognized as equal to the languages from pre-Hispanic origin. Mexico registers 364 linguistic variations originating from 11 Indo-American linguistic families. 21.5% of the population considers itself Amerindian and around 7.4 million speak at least one indigenous language, according to the Intercensal Population Survey 2015.
The Network of Researchers of the Religious Phenomenon in Mexico reported in 2016 that 85% of the Mexicans are catholic.
The national literacy rate is around 94% and among the illiterate older than 15 years – 61% are women. The average level of education in the country is 9.1 years, according to most recent data from 2015. The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) points out that in 2016, only 17% of the inhabitants aged from 25 to 64, were pursuing or holding a university degree or equivalent.
The OECD data are not favorable when it comes to health either: Mexicans have the largest overweight and obesity prevalence in the OECD group with 73%, while having the lowest life expectancy rate with 75 years.
Mexico is one of the most unequal countries in the world according to the Gini Index of the World Bank. “5% of the most affluent families in Mexico owns 58% of the national wealth. Going higher in the ladder, around 240,000 families (the richest 1%) accumulates almost 40% of the total wealth”, as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean points out in its report Social Panorama of Latin America 2016.
However, the most worrying problem among the Mexicans older than 18 is not poverty, unemployment or corruption, but the insecurity, which was confirmed by 6 out of every 10 Mexicans that answered the National Survey on Victimization and Public Safety Perception in 2018.
INEGI (2015). Encuesta Intercensal 2015. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
CONEVAL (2017). Medición de la pobreza en México 2016. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
INEGI (2017). Encuesta Nacional de los Hogares (ENH) 2017. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
RIFREM (2016). Encuesta Nacional de Creencias y Prácticas Religiosas en México. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
OCDE (2017). Panorama de la educación 2017. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
OCDE (2016). Estudios de la OCDE sobre los Sistemas de Salud: México 2016. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
ONU - CEPAL (2017). Panorama Social de América Latina 2016. Accessed on 5 March 2019.
INEGI (2018). Encuesta Nacional de victimización y percepción sobre seguridad pública (Envipe) 2018. Accessed on 5 March 2019.