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

Despite the diversity of programs and extensive resources allocated to fighting poverty, the majority of national and international rankings place Mexico among the countries with the highest levels of inequality.

Moreover, official figures on extreme poverty seem to indicate that policies aimed at “social development” and “overcoming poverty” have been unable to reverse growth in this area.

Increases in extreme poverty inevitably lead to greater social inequality. Inequality in income distribution in Mexico has effectively remained the same over the past 50 years. Between 1963 and 2010, the value of the Gini coefficient fell by only 6% (see Table 2).

All signs point to minimal improvement in overall income distribution for Mexican households in nearly half a century. As may be expected, there were practically no changes for the 10% poorest swath of the population, which continues to maintain the same share of national income distribution.

Unequal income distribution also leads to inequality in access to basic services, such as education and health. Furthermore, poverty is reflected in levels of hunger and malnutrition and a high propensity for illness among individuals, which also leads to lower performance, absenteeism and dropping out of school (Miguel and Kremer, 2004: 159-217). All of this impacts insufficient training, future job opportunities and the attainment of better-paid jobs that allow individuals to overcome poverty.

In a context of limited economic growth, restricted job creation and low income for the majority of the population, as well as highly concentrated opportunities and income, poverty and inequality tend to grow. The policies in place and investment of significant sums of public resources have been rather unsuccessful.

As can be seen in Table 1, in just the past 12 years, resources allocated for social policy have gone up by 2.7 times. However, the number of poor people increased by 5 million persons in this time period (see Table 3). It is clear that public policies oriented towards fighting poverty have not met their goals.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 50, Number 196 January-March 2019 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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