Poverty in Mexico, and its Figures

With most of its inhabitants having unmet needs, it is not surprising that poverty in Mexico is something to worry about. We are the eleventh most populated country on earth (with a population of 112 million 322 thousand) and about 47% have some degree of poverty. We must remember that poverty is classified into three types:

· Lack of food
· Lack of skills
· Lack of possessions

This 47% we are talking about, includes the three types mentioned above.

The entity in charge of measuring the levels of poverty and other social data in Mexico is the CONEVAL (National Council for Social Development Policy). According to data provided by this agency, the state with the highest percentage of people with lack of food (which do not even have enough to eat) is Chiapas, followed by Guerrero.

There are several causes that keep many people in the poverty threshold (IE less than one dollar daily income) among them: unemployment, lack of education and opportunities, in addition to their town limitations. There's no doubt that economic crisis promotes the steady increase in the amount of poor people; this happened in the 2009 crisis when the number of poor people increased by more than 2%. Currently, only 94.3% of the economically active population has an income source (although this figure can be misleading, because it includes temporary jobs).

We can not fail to mention the close relationship that exists between poverty and illiteracy in our country. It is estimated that 8.3% of people can not read or write (an estimated 9 million 300 thousand people). Another important factor that keeps people in poverty is the lack of entitlement to health services. This percentage is enormous, reaching 49% of the population.

Federal administrations in Mexico are conducting a myriad of social programs in order to fight all forms of poverty. These programs are diverse, ranging from economic aid (as in the case of "70 and more", deposit cards for single mothers, unemployment insurance, etc.) To educational scholarships (for high school) and distribution of free medicines (Angel Network, People's Insurance, etc.). The total number of social programs exceeds one hundred, but there is uncertainty in this figure caused by inaccuracies in several state's records. The number of members reaches over 40 million.

Mexico has invested more than ever in the implementation of these programs, with increases of millions of pesos per year (accounting for more than 40% of total public expenditure), despite this effort, according to various sources, the number of people in need is far from diminishing (even with international aid), and even, in the opinion of some scholars, we will see a significant increase in the population of people with serious needs in 2011 (food poverty may affect 2.5 million people!). Since 2006 11 million people have joined the poverty figures.

The problem resides not only on a lack of oversight on government spending, but a proper approach to spending. We can not be just giving money, we must remember that it is better to teach someone how to fish than give them one fish every day. We must help people improve their condition, working together, State, Society and Individuals. Providing education to people in various fields so that they can build a better future must be one of the goals to be achieved, if we want to help, at least a bit, to end poverty in Mexico!

Article produced by the Editorial Team of "Explorando Mexico".
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Photo: Uam.mx