Poverty in MexicoFor some, poverty in Mexico is their reality. Juana, a 17-year-old girl living in Maneadero, Mexico, was born into a family with no access to education, clean water, electricity or housing. This is becoming the norm in Mexico. Juana only managed to escape these conditions through the help of foundations that built her family home and provided her with a scholarship. Extreme poverty increased by 2.1 million from 2018 to 2020, with 43.9% of the population below the national poverty line. The current government welfare system is failing to deal with increasing poverty in Mexico. Many Mexicans are not as lucky as Juana. Here is everything you need to know about poverty in Mexico that is causing the lack of opportunities and high inequality.

Corruption, Security and Justice

Mexico is not a poor country. As of 2020, it has the 15th largest economy in the world and until recently had the largest economy in Latin America. However, 15 individuals hold 13% of Mexico’s wealth and corruption is rampant across all sectors. As a result, Mexico invests less money into public services due to bribes and misallocation of resources into unproductive activities and inefficient policies. This has led to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

In fact, Transparency International outlines that “corruption is the most regressive tax in the country and a direct obstacle to the access to the most basic services for development,” Huff Post reports. This plays a key role in the rising levels of poverty in Mexico.

On top of this, in Mexico wealth is not distributed evenly, with those living in rural areas receiving less. They have little access to infrastructure or social support. The most extreme examples of this are Chiapas and Oaxaca, with poverty rates over 60%.

In addition to rising levels of poverty, people’s quality of life is also impacted by the fact that 93% of all crimes go unreported in Mexico. Crime has multiplied due to Mexican law enforcement agencies failing to hold people accountable.

The growth of drug cartels and petty crime has led to greater political instability and affected economic growth. As a result of this, 12 million Mexicans now work through the black market without the protection of social security. These individuals are often exploited. The number in this situation is only increasing.

To help support the poor, The Hunger Project has set up a scheme that advocates and creates partnerships between municipalities in Mexico. The aim is to create self-reliant communities.

Since 2020, this has already seen success in Oaxaca. Some examples of this are The Hunger Project setting up backyard orchards in seven municipalities, introducing rainwater harvesting systems and installing ecological toilets. This has helped to deal with the issues of health care and education outlined below. The more awareness and opportunities that are introduced like this, the more people could get chances like Juana’s.

Health Care and COVID-19

As a result of corruption and instability, public institutions in Mexico fail to live up to the standards necessary to ensure people’s health and well-being. From 2012 to 2014, those with access to health care decreased by 3.5 million.

Consequently, families are likely to have more children, leading to less investment in each child. This means children develop fewer skills. As a result, families are more likely to stay in poverty. The added pressures of COVID-19 have made the situation worse, explaining the increased rates of poverty in recent years.

Moreover, 30% of the population experience nutritional problems as they cannot afford basic food items. This leads to underdevelopment in children and a higher mortality rate. As a result, human capital in Mexico is lacking.

While unemployment is high, where people do secure work, they are often weak and uneducated, leading to lower productivity. This has reduced economic growth, resulting in higher levels of poverty in Mexico.


COVID-19 has also decreased access to education. Education was already limited, with only 62% of Mexican children reaching high school. This limits the opportunities for those in poverty, amplifying the divide between the rich and poor.

Furthermore, those living in rural areas have even less access to education meaning the uneven distribution of wealth in these areas is only increasing. Lack of skills and qualifications also means that many poor people cannot find jobs, resulting in extreme poverty levels of up to nearly 20% across the country.

Juana was lucky. From everything you need to know about poverty in Mexico, there is hope for a better future through schemes such as The Hunger Project. A self-reliant population could reduce the issues of elitism and corruption. Economic growth could prosper and poverty could decrease if this campaign continues. This could give Mexico the opportunity to renovate its infrastructure and institutions.

– Reuben Cochrane
Photo: Flickr

poverty in Mexico
In 2018, estimates determined that 42% of the Mexican population was living in poverty. This figure indicates that about 52 million people in the entire nation lived in poverty. In 2015, Chiapas continued to be the poorest state and Oaxaca the second poorest, with poverty rates of 76.2% and 66.8% respectively. An organization based in the state of Vermont called VAMOS! helps people struggling with poverty in Mexico.

Since its founding in 1987, VAMOS! has provided residents with education, food, health services and much more for free in the state of Morales. Recently, The Borgen Project was able to speak with Executive Director Sean Dougherty about the origins and successes of VAMOS! Sean got involved with the organization because his partners were part of the founding board. He says he enjoys being part of the organization because he loves hearing about the impact it has made on families.


Only 62% of Mexican children reach high school and only 45% complete their high school careers. About 38% of men and 35% of women in Mexico are uneducated and unemployed. Overall, their education rates are lower than most other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

 VAMOS! helps those struggling with poverty in Mexico to alleviate this issue by providing access to quality education, especially in the areas of Early Childhood and Primary Education.

“Education is the single-most-important driver of economic empowerment for individuals and communities,” Dougherty said. “Educated parents are able to earn an income and feed their children. Children who complete primary education are more likely to achieve food security as adults and end the cycle of poverty in their generation.”


A recent U.N. study shows nearly 14% of Mexican children under five years of age experience stunted growth. This concept means that these children are slowed in their development, often as a result of malnutrition, according to Dougherty. VAMOS! helps people suffering from poverty in Mexico by providing food to many families every day.

“VAMOS! Nutrition Programs operate in each of our ten Community Centers and provide a necessary and important addition to the daily diet of the poor we serve,” Dougherty said. VAMOS! serves more than 140,000 meals a year, and hosts many clean water and vitamin programs that provide a measure of food security for affected families. The organization has also managed to erase malnutrition among families that regularly visit VAMOS! centers.


“On a daily basis, in our 10 community centers throughout Cuernavaca, VAMOS! is trying to create a space of love, dignity and respect for anyone and everyone who walks through our doors,” Dougherty said. “We do this by greeting everyone, welcoming each child, listening to their mothers and making sure that every child knows that they are important and that they deserve a future filled with opportunities and love.”

VAMOS! aids those wrestling with poverty in Mexico by aiding, on average, 800-900 kids and more than 400 mothers per week. Since its founding, the organization has served more than 3 million meals. One thousand two hundred people visit its centers per day and the staff has grown to more than 250 members to accommodate them.

Future Goals

According to Dougherty, VAMOS! hopes to expand its reach to further benefit people battling poverty in Mexico.

“In our most recent surveys, our students and mothers are asking for English classes, job training, small business development, certification in computer business skills and additional programming for teens,” Dougherty said. “These are the areas we will be concentrating on as we continue to expand our programs in the near future.”

Shreya Chari
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Mexico
Mexico has suffered from the effects of poverty and food insecurity for decades. The problem does not lie in food unavailability but in the fact that areas living in poverty do not make enough money to purchase necessary goods. This issue is being addressed and alleviated by nonprofit organizations like The Hunger Project (THP) and even the country’s President, Enrique Peña Nieto. In the text below top 10 facts about hunger in Mexico are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Mexico

  1. About 8.5 million residents of Mexico or about 7 percent of the population need to live on less than $2 a day.
  2. Mexico is experiencing an unbalanced distribution of wealth where the richest part of the population has nearly 14 times more money than the poorest one. As different social classes have different access to food the main problem with food insecurity is accessibility, not availability.
  3. At least 10 percent of all residents of Mexico experience poor access to food, while the inadequate food access affects between 25 and 35 percent of the population in nine states.
  4. Mexico suffers from issues with malnutrition, anemia, overweight and obesity. The rates of malnutrition have dropped significantly but about 13 percent of children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition and one in four children is overweight or obese. Rates of malnutrition are highest in rural areas and obesity is highest in urban areas.
  5. Between 2003 and 2005, the food supply per capita daily in Mexico was 3,270 kilocalories on average, while the minimum requirements are only 1,850 kilocalories per capita daily.
  6. According to data acquired by the National Survey of Wholesale, Food and Nutritional Status in Rural Areas  (ENAAEN), all food groups for a healthy diet were available for sale within the communities. The problem is that residents do not have sufficient income to purchase all the goods they need.
  7. In 2008, 18.2 percent of the population in Mexico was in poverty meaning they could not buy adequate food for their families even if they use their entire income. An analysis done by CONEVAL found that the states with the highest percentages of food poverty were Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.
  8. Since nearly 52 million people in Mexico suffer from hunger, President Enrique Peña Nieto instituted an executive order that he would fight the issue directly. In Chiapas, he announced the program called La Cruzada Nacional contra el Hambre (National Crusade against Hunger). The program works to enhance the social development, education and defense amongst 400 of the country’s poorest communities. He also began Sistema Nacional contra el Hambre (National System against Hunger) that works to be a legal medium for government agencies and the communities over issues about hunger.
  9. A nonprofit organization called The Hunger Project (THP) is working to fight hunger and poverty with strategies that are sustainable, grassroots and women-centered. They have also been addressing issues of food insecurity in Mexico.
  10. In 2013, THP celebrated 30 years of working in Mexico. Between 1987 and 1997, THP was focused mainly on raising awareness of the problem and raising money to alleviate the hunger. Later on, between 1998 and 2004, it trained people to become change agents, with the primary goal to develop change within the communities. The training began in Mexico City and assigned the change agents into some the poorest communities in the country. Finally, in 2012, it strengthened the programs and focused on monitoring and evaluating progress. The organization has worked in Chiapas, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Oaxaca.

The top 10 facts about hunger in Mexico highlight the main problem which can be summarized in the fact that the food is available but cannot be accessed due to the different reasons mentioned above.

– David Daniels
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Mexico
Girls’ education in Mexico has steadily improved over the last 50 years in terms of school accessibility, educational infrastructure and attendance rates. The opportunity to attend primary school is almost equal for girls (49 percent) and boys (51 percent) in Mexico.

However, the Mexican government still faces many challenges to educational attainment for girls, with poverty as its primary determinant. There are many factors and influences on girls’ education in Mexico, as well as programs offering a positive change in recent years.

10 Facts about Girls’ Education in Mexico

  1. Primary School Attendance Vs. Higher Education Attendance
    The Mexican school system consists of mandatory free primary and, as of 1992, secondary education as well as optional tertiary education. While the number of girls in school has caught up to the number of boys in school, “this is only true until the age of 14.” Starting at around age 15, girls in Mexico face sociocultural barriers to continue to higher education. Early marriages or unions, early pregnancies, domestic responsibilities and traditional roles of women encourage girls to leave school earlier than boys.
  2. Family Poverty
    Family poverty is a key determinant of girls’ underrepresentation in Mexican schools. A 2001 study showed that, compared with boys, girls from poor families – families from the lowest fifth of the income distribution in each year – were less likely to attend school full-time. Girls in the lowest 20 percent of the income distribution were less likely than boys to be in school or employed; however, there was no significant difference between school attendance rates of boys and girls in Mexico living in upper-income households.
  3. Regional Poverty
    In Mexico, rural areas are defined as localities with less than 2,500 residents. These localities tend to have a higher percentage of the population in poverty with less access to health and educational systems. Regional poverty contributes to the underdevelopment of girls’ education in Mexico; southern Mexico – Mexico’s least developed region – is the region where girls are most disadvantaged in terms of school access.
  4. Indigenous Populations
    In Mexico, indigenous populations are defined by either self-identification or language. Ten percent of Mexico’s 130 million inhabitants are indigenous and there are over 68 linguistic groups coexisting in Mexico. Southern Mexico has the greatest concentration of indigenous populations. Despite extreme variation in household languages, all primary education is taught in Spanish, “which contributes to an uneven learning process in classrooms.” Furthermore, girls’ education in Mexico within indigenous populations is complicated by the limited availability of transportation and by sociocultural barriers, such as the expectation for women and girls to maintain the household. Though the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico (2017) showed that access to primary level school is almost equal for girls (49 percent) and boys (51 percent), the statistics do not necessarily reflect the cultural barriers that indigenous girls face if they are to continue into higher education.
  5. Parental Involvement
    Parental involvement and maternal education is a key determinant of girls’ education in Mexico. In general, high parental education levels are positively associated with their children’s achievement. Specifically, studies conducted in Mexico have found that a mother’s level of education has a strong positive effect on their daughters’ enrollment in school. Mothers with basic education are significantly more likely to educate their children, and especially their daughters. Data suggests that support to uneducated mothers’ literacy programs should be a high priority for the Mexican government since these programs help to increase girls’ school enrollment, attendance and participation.
  6. HIP: Investing in Girls’ Education in Mexico
    In 2017, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) began to invest in girls’ education in Mexico as part of their mission to promote Latino equity and inclusion across Latin America. Findings from their research into international and national actors led them to the conclusion that there are several educational initiatives in Mexico to improve the quality of education. However, these efforts are not designed specifically with girls in mind. To improve girls’ education in Mexico, HIP intends to increase investments in programs to reduce early marriages, unions and pregnancies. HIP relies on its 15 years of grantmaking experience in the U.S. and Latin America, partnerships with over 270 donors and investments in Latino-serving organizations throughout the U.S. and Latin America to achieve their goals regarding in girls’ education in Mexico.
  7. PROGRESA-Oportunidades
    Since 1998, PROGRESA — a national poverty-alleviation initiative, later called Oportunidades —  provides stipends to millions of Mexican households on the condition of children’s school enrollment and attendance, with higher stipends for girls’ education. This program was one of many conditional cash transfer programs started by the Mexican government, which incentivized Mexico’s poorest households to send their children — especially their girls — to school. Beginning with secondary school, stipends are higher for girls to remain in school due to their higher drop-out rate. Since Oportunidades’ inception, 39 percent of girls in the program advanced more rapidly through the school system, and 18 percent of girls who dropped out at the third-grade level now remained in school.
  8. The New Educational Model
    The New Educational Model, Mexico’s latest educational reform, is dedicated to ensuring that a greater number of indigenous girls have access to education. The last time the Mexican government implemented a new educational model was in 1959; however, this new educational reform encourages comprehension over memorization and allows for greater parental involvement regarding subject selection. These changes will, in turn, encourage girls’ education in Mexico.
  9. Fields of Education
    In recent years, there has been a greater push for girls to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields in higher education in Mexico. Jointly run by Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education, The Mexican Academy of Science and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), new programs in Mexican higher education are promoting STEM education, “placing significant focus on female students.” According to OECD, 5 out of 10 students studying at Mexican universities are women; however, many females have refused to choose science as a career in the past. The U.S.-Mexico Foundation (USMF) created a STEM mentoring program for Mexican female high school students, which had exceptional results: 100 percent of the girls in the program who graduated from high school attended college, and around 85 percent of them are studying STEM-related careers.
  10. Expansion of Early Childcare Programs
    In Mexico, there is a societal expectation that “daughters should provide domestic support.” Girls’ school enrollment and attendance rates are based, in part, on the sibling composition of the family. Younger sisters are freed from the domestic responsibilities when their older sister remains in the home to fulfill that role. Though policymakers have made some headway with initiatives and educational reforms, girls’ access to Mexico’s secondary schools could be significantly improved with the implementation of policy to expand early childcare programs. With this policy intervention, more girls would be freed up to attend school.

Girls’ education in Mexico is influenced by family features (e.g. family poverty, parental involvement, maternal education and sibling composition), sociocultural barriers (e.g. early marriages, early pregnancies and domestic responsibilities and expectations), and instability (e.g. regional poverty, limited transportation and poor educational infrastructure).

Despite the challenges to education for girls in Mexico, there have been many educational reforms and initiatives in the past 20 years (e.g. PROGRESA-Oportunidades, HIP, The New Educational Model, USMF’s STEM mentoring program, among others) that have encouraged positive change.

If this kind of trajectory continues, education for girls in Mexico will hopefully reach unprecedented levels of success.

– Kara Roberts
Photo: Flickr

remittances to Mexico
Remittances to Mexico in 2017 reached the highest level ever recorded. Remittances provide many Mexican families with necessary supplemental funding and are one of Mexico’s most important sources of income. The record-breaking number of remittance payments were driven by the depreciation of the peso and uncertainty surrounding the future of Mexican exports to the U.S.

Remittances: Important Source of Income for Mexico

Remittance payments are one of Mexico’s largest sources of foreign income, with manufactured exports, oil exports and foreign direct investment. Although manufactured exports remain Mexico’s top source of foreign income, remittances outpace oil. Mexico is the largest recipient of remittance payments sent from migrant workers in the U.S.

Mexico’s poorest states tend to receive the most in remittance payments. In 2017, Michoacán received the most remittances — $2.915 billion. Michoacán is the sixth poorest state in Mexico, with a poverty rate of 54.4 percent. Remittances to Jalisco totalled $2.797 billion and remittances to Guanajuato were $2.56 billion.

According to the Bank of México, 2017 remittances from Mexican workers living abroad totalled $28.77 billion — a 6.6 percent increase over the $26.99 billion sent back to Mexico in 2016. Remittance payments to Mexico mainly come from the U.S.

Record-High Remittances Spurred by Two Factors

The record-high number of remittances to Mexico in 2017 were due to two major forces — depreciation of the peso and President Trump’s proposed tax on remittances to Mexico.

The peso dropped dramatically in 2016 after the U.S. election of President Trump. The election created uncertainty surrounding Mexican exports to the U.S., also known as Mexico’s largest export market. In 2016, the U.S. consumed 81.03 percent of all Mexican exports.

Specifically, the election of President Trump created fear that Mexican exports to the U.S. would be stifled either by the United States’ withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or by the imposition of tariffs on Mexican exports. Remittances to Mexico traditionally increase when the peso is weak, as foreign currency will buy more pesos.

The ‘Wall’ of Cash

Additionally, President Trump has proposed taxing or halting U.S. remittances to Mexico to fund a border wall. Trump has threatened to prevent wire transfers between Mexican workers in the U.S. and their families back home until the Mexican government agrees to a one-time, $5-10 billion payment to fund the border wall.

Taxing remittances has also been considered an alternate measure to fund the wall. Economists argue that uncertainty surrounding the future of remittances to Mexico encouraged Mexicans working in the U.S. to send more money home in 2017.

– Katherine Parks
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Mexico
News often tends to focus on the bad rather than the good. In recent years, almost all of the news reported on Mexico, especially in the U.S., has related to the Mexican Drug War and desperate, impoverished people turning to crime to support themselves. Sadly, this is how the media misrepresents Mexico and has made many of us forget what a great country Mexico truly is along with the many great things it offers.

Travel Warnings

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of State issued “do not travel” advisories for the Mexican states of Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Guerrero. The warning is comparable to travel advisories for Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. As of March, nearing spring break, a popular time for travel to Mexico, warnings have spread into locations that were once considered safe and popular resort areas. A security alert warned Americans not to travel to Playa del Carmen which is a popular destination in itself and surrounded by other resort locations such as Cancun and Tulum.

It is true that Mexico is currently struggling with many issues including a drug war, and that some locations in Mexico are dangerous, but the fixation on only these areas is exactly how the media misrepresents Mexico and this situation, the focus often portraying Mexico as much worse off than it is.

As a whole, the U.S. classifies travel to Mexico with the same rank of danger as travel to Germany. It is only specific locations, as mentioned above, that rank higher. That being said, the vast majority of Mexicans are not criminals or dangerous to tourists. They are actually very welcoming and inclusive of visitors. Mexicans honor friendships and family and strive to include those interested in their culture.

A Thriving Mexico

Speaking of culture, it is currently thriving in Mexico, especially at its heart, Mexico City. Although it was once more dangerous, Mexico City has become as safe as any other large urban area, and it’s working on being even safer, including the introduction of train cars specifically for women and children to better prevent sexual harassment.

Mexico City offers a wide variety of restaurants and street vendors serving everything from traditional Mexican cuisine to creative modern dishes, or a combination of the two, making it a foodie paradise.   Art is another growing scene in the city, with independent art galleries and shops showing up in droves. The reason for this cultural and creative boom can most likely be attributed to the steady growth of Mexico’s economy.

Beyond the bustle of city life, Mexicans also care dearly for their county’s beautiful landscapes and environment. Many government policies regarding the environment have been enacted in recent years, including the creation of conservation zones which protect against logging. These protected areas include the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve which consists of approximately 140 thousand acres of butterfly habitat. Thanks to Mexico’s protection, the once diminishing population of Monarchs is now flourishing.

Although Mexico faces many issues regarding crime and drugs, a fixation of reports and stories regarding it is often how the media misrepresents Mexico.  The news on Mexico does not represent its country and people. There are still many wonderful, safe locations in the country with welcoming locals eager to show the real Mexico to visitors. Even with the many struggles it faces, Mexico continues to grow and improve as a nation both economically and culturally. Its people, including the government, work hard to preserve as well as advance these successes.

– Keegan Struble
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Mexico

Poverty in Mexico, and crime as a result of that poverty, are well-known problems. In Mexico, there is a rising level of violence as well as stagnant wages and declining purchasing power.

In 2014, 53.2 percent of the country lived below the national poverty line by the broadest measure of poverty. This means they lack sufficient income to meet basic needs including food, health, education, clothes, housing, transport and more.

On average, Mexican laborers worked a total of 2,246 hours in 2015, the most of the 35 members countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, those workers earned on average a total of only $14,867, the lowest in the OECD.

According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Mexico received $338 million in aid that was broadly classified as economic development and military assistance in 2015.

The amount of foreign aid to Mexico varies each year but it has been about 0.7 percent of overall U.S. foreign aid since 2010. Overall foreign aid represents about 1 percent of the federal budget.

There are several initiatives that address poverty and seek to help those living in poverty in Mexico. Three organizations running initiatives like these are:

  1. Freedom from Hunger
  2. Un Techo para mi País (TECHO)
  3. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Freedom from Hunger

Freedom from Hunger uses microfinance as a self-assist support tool to help the poor reduce the day-to-day uncertainties of cash management. It also promotes the delivery of integrated financial services to increase economic and food security of the poor in Mexico and Central America, especially for women and girls.

Freedom from Hunger also developed and promoted “value-added” or “integrated” microfinance programs that pair financial services with education and health protection.

The education programs engage women during microfinance meetings with practical skills to promote better health, nutrition, business and money management through the use of dialogue, story, song, demonstrations and pictures.

The organization has six specially designed e-learning courses to build the skills of microfinance institutions and to create a frontline group who can provide better financial training to their clients.


TECHO is a youth led non-profit organization present in Latin America and the Caribbean. They seek to overcome poverty in slums through the collaborative work of youth volunteers with families living in extreme poverty in Mexico.

TECHO aims to have society as a whole recognize poverty as a priority and actively work toward overcoming it, doing so through three strategic objectives:

  1. The promotion of community development in slums to drive thousands of families to generate solutions to their own problems. 
  2. Social awareness and action, with emphasis on having committed volunteers and involving different social entities.
  3. Political advocacy that promotes structural changes to decrease poverty. 


ECLAC, also known in Spanish as CEPAL, is a U.N. regional commission encouraging economic cooperation. It works toward economic, social and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also reinforces economic ties to other countries and nations around the world.

With efforts toward eliminating poverty in Mexico, there can be a pathway toward a stronger, flourishing country.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

Mexico’s Hidden War
Mexico‘s poverty rate fell 0.6 percent between 2010 and 2012 to 53.3 million people, the government’s social development agency Coneval said. Factoring in the population growth for Mexico, the ranks of the poor grew by half a million people at that time. This statistic shows the startling conclusion that half of the country’s population lives in poverty, signifying Mexico’s hidden war.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has to help lift millions of people out of poverty and boost growth in Mexico, but there continues to be a large wealth gap. With his approval hitting an all-time low, the problem seems worse than it appears.

In Zitlaltepec, a village in the municipality of Zumpango toward the south of Mexico, 86 percent of residents are poor and 30 percent live in extreme poverty. This is the highest rate of poverty in the state, the total area being Mexico’s fifth poorest. Almost all people living in the area lack unemployment and retirement benefits.

The Coneval defines poverty as living on no more than 2,329 pesos a month ($135) in cities, and 1,490 pesos ($86)  a month in rural areas. The benchmark for extreme poverty was 1,125 pesos in cities and 800 pesos a month in the countryside. Coneval also takes other factors like health care and education into account.

While the number of people living in extreme poverty fell to 11.5 million by the end of 2012, or 9.8 percent of the population, many more Mexicans are now worse off than they were when former President Felipe Calderon entered the last two years of a six-year term in which poverty swelled by nearly three percent.

“The only feasible, permanent answer to reducing poverty in Mexico is through economic growth,” Mexican Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said in a press conference after the Coneval data was published.

However, there are efforts to revitalize the current situation in Mexico. Government policy is underway to try and address the issues of poor-quality jobs, retirement benefits and care for those below the poverty line. In 2013, UNICEF worked with the Mexican government to research the factors that address child poverty within the country.

While these efforts are gradually making a difference, it will be a long way for Mexico to recover. However, as long as these and more programs come into effect, hopefully Mexico will see a brighter future.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Coneval, Al Jazeera, Poverties, UNICEF, WSJ
Photo: Al Jazeera


Recent data by the Mexican government has revealed that close to 50 percent of the Mexican population is currently living in poverty. This poverty crisis represents a major blow to President Pena Nieto’s pledge to alleviate close to 15 million Mexican citizens in poverty throughout his six year electoral term.

As it stands, 46.2 percent of Mexicans live in poverty, with two million Mexican citizens falling below the poverty line from 2012 to 2014. Despite a steady economy in recent years, the Mexican government is struggling to enact any meaningful relief to its population. Contrary to the woes of the administration, global relief organization Freedom from Hunger has emerged as a beacon of hope for millions of displaced Mexicans.

Freedom from Hunger is a nonprofit organization that operates by going into poverty stricken areas and meeting with already existing local groups to provide technological aid as well as training in a variety of crucial survival skills. As per Freedom from Hunger’s website: “We learn from our partners about the unique challenges in their service areas and how, together, we can overcome them. By training partner organizations to deliver the services—and training them to train others—we ensure that the programs become locally owned, spontaneously shared and sustained beyond our original collaboration.” This group provides immediate aid as well as long-term sustainability to developing zones across the globe.

Freedom from Hunger has recently launched an initiative to address poverty in Mexico. The plan is simple: focus the bulk of effort on helping the poor in rural areas of Mexico, as these people are the most in need of aid. Freedom from Hunger plans to bring banking and healthcare infrastructures to the areas of Guanajuato, Chiapas and Hidalgo, where the number of those in poverty is reportedly in the tens of thousands. At the same time, the organization plans on instituting a headquarters in Mexico City to provide year-round training for local Mexican relief agencies.

By launching this initiative, Freedom from Hunger is estimating that “by the end of the first year, Freedom from Hunger and its collaborating partners could be reaching as many as 14,000 people in villages where financial services and health education are desperately needed.” This immediate success could provide a spark for the Mexican government to piggy-back some of Freedom from Hunger’s ideas and create substantial government aid. It is inconceivable that almost half of a country with a population of roughly 123 million people lives in poverty, but it is inspiring that one organization could be the difference in changing this nation forever.

Diego Catala

Sources: Channel News Asia, Freedom from Hunger
Photo: Global Micro Credits Summit

Poverty in Mexico
Even though much of Latin America has been able to significantly reduce poverty, the country of Mexico still struggles. Below are the leading facts about poverty in Mexico. Education about the problem of poverty in Mexico is crucial and will help us remedy the situation.

Top Facts about Poverty in Mexico

  1. Around half of the population lives in poverty; about 10 percent of people live in extreme poverty.
  2. The number of people in poverty has mainly been increasing since 2006, when 42.9 percent of people were below the national poverty line.
  3. Chiapas, Guerrero and Puebla are the states with the highest levels of poverty.
  4. Mexico has a sizable GDP of about $1.283 trillion. Even so, Mexico’s GDP per capita or per person is $14,000. This means that there is a sizable wealth gap in the country between rich and poor.
  5. More than 20 million children live in poverty with more than five million living in extreme poverty, according to Fusion, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
  6. About 25 million Mexicans make less than $14 a day and a quarter of the workforce is underemployed.
  7. The average salary in rural areas is 3 to 4 times less than that of urban areas in Mexico.
  8. Economic growth is commonly believed to decrease poverty. Mexico’s annual growth rate is somewhat small, around two to three percent. Additionally, this economic growth has mainly benefitted the rich.
  9. Drug wars are thought to perpetuate poverty in Mexico.
  10. Despite all of this, Mexico has decreased extreme poverty in the country by 20 to 25 percent since 1995. This is mainly because of social welfare programs that were enacted during economic crises.

Even though poverty in Mexico is a sizable issue, there are certain steps the country can take to help those in poverty. Mexico can focus on decreasing the wealth gap and ensuring that economic growth benefits the poor. Additionally, Mexico can take steps to prosecute drug cartels. This may be easier said than done, but with these things in mind, Mexico can decrease poverty in the country.

Ella Cady

Sources: World Bank, Huffington Post, IB Times,
Photo: PV