Volume 44, Number 174,
July-September 2013
Setbacks and Challenges for Social Policy in Mexico
José Narro Robles, David Moctezuma Narro
and Diego de la Fuente Stevens

The causes of these issues and, in many cases, the failed results of public policy efforts, would appear to be diverse. They include low focus on poverty and universalization of some public services.

One major problem is the political clientelism of social policy, as well as the fact that the State has not always stepped up to its social responsibility. Other issues include lack of coordination, the sheer number of programs and allocation of resources, which have also played a role in rendering social policies to defeat poverty ineffective.

Coneval reports that in 2010 there were 2,391 programs and actions aimed at social development spread throughout the states. In 2012, the federal government developed 278 social programs and actions to which over 743 billion pesos were allocated. These include funds destined for overcoming poverty. Table 8 shows the distribution of these federal programs by the institution in charge of implementing them.

The lack of concerted government effort in this area is evident. It would therefore be difficult to achieve good cooperation, given the diversity and multiplicity of programs.

A preliminary review of the inventory of the names federal programs in place to combat poverty reveals almost inexplicable contradictions. For example, in 2012, the Ministry of Treasury and Public Credit was responsible for programs aimed at indigenous communities, such as school accommodations, productive organization of women, alternative tourism, production, gender equality and the conservation of natural resources. They even supported indigenous persons displaced from their communities of origin. Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Economy allocated over 715 million pesos to developing the software industry. The National Researchers System and post-graduate fellowships coordinated by Conacyt as well as urgent care from issste are also included in the social development inventory.

There is clearly no well-defined concept of what the government understands as the meaning of “social development.” Even more clear is that the government lacks strong focus when addressing this issue. Sedesol, as seen in Table 8, is responsible for 24 of the 278 federal programs aimed at addressing social development, but in 2012, it only handled 107,000 pesos of the 317 billion allocated for overcoming poverty.

This data serves to illustrate the lack of coordination and the extreme diversity of programs that supposedly aim to promote social development and overcoming poverty. Herein resides the answer as to why the number of impoverished people continues to rise despite the allocation of major amounts of public resources.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 194 July-September 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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