The income differences are huge in Mexico. Every other resident in national statistics is counted as poor and every tenth lives in extreme poverty. At the same time, there is a wealthy middle class and a large group of very wealthy people. Social legislation has long served as a role model in Latin America but has now been eroded.
The contrasts are often noticeable between the industrialized north and the disadvantaged south, between city and countryside, and between poor indigenous peoples and a wealthy minority of Spanish kittens. Among the wealthiest of the wealthy is telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, who is the richest person in Latin America and for a few years even ranked as the richest in the world.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Mexico, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Poverty has declined since the 1990s when more than two-thirds of the population was considered poor, but many residents are just over the border. This became clear during the financial crisis 2008-2009, when the proportion of poor people in a couple of years increased from 43 percent to 53 percent.
The escape from the countryside has created miserable social conditions in the slums of big cities. Homelessness, unemployment, growing crime and severe environmental problems plague Mexico City. There are tens of thousands of street children and many of them become drug addicts early on. Child labor occurs.
Obesity is a major public health problem. Seven out of ten Mexicans are overweight and one in three suffer from obesity, a slightly higher proportion than in the United States. The problem is greatest among poor people who are often undernourished at the same time. Consequential diseases are common, not least diabetes, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) has become the most common cause of death in Mexico.
The war on drug cartels has led to a complete explosion of violent crime. The violence takes place primarily within and between the drug leagues, as well as between them and the police and military, but also civilians are affected (see also Democracy and Rights).
Mexican social legislation includes, among other things, statutory minimum wage, old-age pension, maternity allowance and insurance in the event of disability and work injury, as well as some unemployment benefits. In recent decades, however, welfare has not kept pace with the increase in population in the country. In addition, social insurance is mainly linked to formal employment and thus covers less than half of the population (see Labor market). However, a health insurance, Seguro Popular, was introduced in 2004 for residents who are otherwise without insurance cover. Ten years later, the system included over 55 million Mexicans. The investment is reported to have led not only to better health but also to increased growth and reduced expenditure for the state.
Gender equality should prevail according to law, but the woman’s position is weak, both politically and economically and socially. Violence and rape are common in the home as well. Two out of three women say they have been subjected to violence. Mexico was the first country in the world to admit sex-based murder of women, femicide, as a particular crime, in 2007. The law has not been very successful in preventing it: just over nine women are murdered on average per day. The perpetrator is often a man they have or have had a close relationship with.
A ban on abortion is prevalent in most of Mexico, except in certain difficult circumstances. This leads to tens of thousands of illegal abortions. In Mexico City, abortion was legalized until the twelfth week of pregnancy in 2007, despite loud protests from the Catholic Church and other conservative forces. The state of Oaxaca followed 2019 with similar legislation.
Mexican society is hierarchically structured. Status and the respect it brings is important for Mexicans. This means that even lower middle class people buy status gadgets they cannot really afford, to give the appearance of having higher social status in the eyes of others. People respect the authority afforded by material wealth or old age. Personal networks are more often the way to work than having the formal qualifications. Loyalty and gene services, a so-called patron-client relationship, form the social basis for the organization of society. In recent years, however, it has become more common for individuals to be more valued based on their efforts, especially in the big cities.
Family life and gender roles
The nuclear family is the dominant family formation, although divorces occur. It is also common for women to live alone with their children because their husbands are in the United States to make money for the family. But even though an average household consists of mother, father and children, cousins, married relatives, grandparents and siblings are counted in the concept of family and are highly valued by Mexicans. In poor households in cities, it is common for households to consist of several members of this extended family, parental, for a period of time. In rural areas, relatives often live very close to each other. You rely on the family when it comes to everything from getting help to finding a job to paying for health care.
Mexicans freely choose who they want to marry, and love is the basis for marriage. Usually, a couple is engaged for several years before they get married. In many families, the daughter must have the father’s permission to meet a certain boyfriend.
Most Mexican families are very traditional, as are the gender roles. This means that the father is seen as the family’s obvious patriarch. The woman is often worshiped in the role of mother, and she has the main responsibility for the household and child rearing. When the mother is seen as a guardian of morals, she often continues the traditional gender roles by treating boys and girls radically different from birth. The prevailing machismo attributes to men qualities such as strength and authority and these are highly valued. However, these stereotypical gender roles are being enlivened by a new generation, at least among wealthier metropolitan residents.
Inheritance and discrimination
When it comes to inheritance law, there is no difference between men and women, but all children are entitled to an equal share of the deceased parent’s inheritance. In practice, however, male heirs are often favored and in rural areas land is often inherited only to the sons.
Child rearing differs in part between different classes, and poorer families tend to be stricter. Aga is not uncommon.
For girls, an important turning point occurs when they turn 15: they are then considered to go from being girls to becoming “young virgins”. It is celebrated with both a Catholic Mass and a large celebration. There is no equivalent for boys. For middle and upper-class youth, leisure is similar to that of a European. For those from poorer backgrounds, there is usually not much free time to talk about, as they have to work to help provide for the family.
In 1999, Mexico abolished what remained of the legislation that discriminated against homosexuals and the situation for LGBTQ people gradually improved. Mexico City became the first country in 2009 to legalize same-sex marriage, and some states have followed suit. The Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that bans on same-sex marriage violate the constitution, which means that remaining states are indirectly forced to admit marriages between gays, even if they are not explicitly required to legalize them. Homophobia in society is strong and discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people is common.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 11 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.2 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 98.3 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 91.2 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 5.9 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: $ 462 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 48 percent (2018)