Throughout history, poverty in Mexico has been increasing. Currently, there are more than 55 million people who live in poverty. Here we explain its causes and consequences, as well as some possible solutions.

Below you have an index with all the points that we are going to deal with in this article.

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Poverty in Mexico: causes and possible consequences


The organization that generates the most objective information on poverty in Mexico is CONEVAL (National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy). The data for the publications they make come from INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico.

To represent the poverty index, CONEVAL takes into account the following factors:

  • Income
  • Education
  • Access to health services
  • Access to social security
  • Access to food
  • Quality and spaces of the house
  • Access to basic housing services

Therefore, it is a multidimensional poverty, in which different aspects of society are taken into account.

One of the data that stands out the most is that 46,2% of the population lives below the poverty line, which translates into 55,4 million people. In addition, 9,5%, that is, 11,4 million inhabitants, survive under a situation of extreme poverty.

In the last 20 years, homelessness has not decreased, but has tended to increase. In addition, in the last 10 years, 9,8 million more people have appeared who are living below the poverty line.

Poverty by federative entities

The Mexican Republic has a federal government and is divided into 32 entities: 31 states and Mexico City. Poverty is not absolute, but in each territory it has a very different percentage. This table shows the poverty data for 2014 in each state:

Federal entityPercentageThousands of people
Baja California28,63,1
Baja California Sur30,33,9
Federal District28,41,7
Nuevo Leon20,41,3
Quintana Roo35,97,0
San Luis Potosi49,19,5

On the other hand, the states with the highest percentage of extreme poverty are Chiapas with 31,8%, Oaxaca with 28,3% and Guerrero with 24,5%. These figures are very alarming, since between the three they add up to a total of 3,65 million of people living in extreme poverty.

Causes and consequences

There are different causes that explain the level of poverty that we find in the country. One of them is the incorrect distribution of wealth, since 1% of the population concentrates 39% of the national wealth. In this way, Mexico is one of the 25 nations with the highest inequality in the world.

In addition, there are situations of corruption, there is a significant lack of employment and a large part of the jobs are poorly paid, being in 2015 the minimum wage of 1.801 pesos, which is equivalent to about 90 dollars. Unemployment is about 4%.

These situations lead to very low economic growth, which, added to a considerable increase in the population (it has increased by 2,6 million in two years), justify the high poverty figures in the country.

This level of scarcity entails consecuencias Transcendental for the population, such as health problems and malnutrition. One and a half million children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Likewise, the search for resources triggers an increase in prostitution and crime, as well as an increase in drug addiction. Family breakdown due to dropouts, teenage pregnancies, and divorces is also common.

Another negative effect is emigration, especially to the United States, to try to achieve a better quality of life. A significant number of these migrations are considered illegal, since they cross the border without any official document that allows it.

Types of poverty

As we have already indicated, the poverty index analyzed in Mexico is multidisciplinary, since it encompasses several factors. However, in the country we find different types of poverty.

One of the most notable shortcomings is the food poverty, the inability to obtain a basic food basket using all available income. It mainly affects children, as it seriously affects their health.

On the other hand, we find social poverty, since in the country people with low incomes live in a social category isolated from the rest of the population, which accentuates marginalization and the difficulty in achieving a better quality of life.

Another type of lack that also occurs in Mexico is patrimonial poverty, since a part of the population can cover their basic needs but not acquire the essential minimums of housing, clothing and transportation. It is related to cultural poverty, due to lack of education.

Rural poverty is more accentuated than urban poverty (with exceptions such as Ciudad Juárez), since small towns are poorly communicated, have fewer services and job opportunities are fewer.

The shortage is also related to gender, since according to various studies, in households where women are the main providers of income there are a greater number of dependents.

La child poverty It is serious, since about 52% of Mexican children suffer from it. It is the most vulnerable group, since 20,9% of young people living in rural areas suffer from malnutrition, a percentage that decreases to 11,9% in urban areas. We can even find working children in the country.

If you want to acquire more information about the types of deprivation that exist in the world, you can read our article about it: Poverty in the world: definition, causes and types.

Possible solutions

Despite the fact that both the government through SEDESOL and large international organizations, including the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund), carry out projects to fight poverty in Mexico, the measures carried out so far are insufficient.

These would be the possible solutions to eradicate hunger and poverty:

  • Greater social investment
  • Improve access to basic services
  • Promote education
  • Ensuring health for all citizens
  • Invest in rural areas

Despite adopting all these measures, the total elimination of poverty would be impossible without changes at the international level that have been brought about by globalization, such as the exploitation of natural resources.

Nor should we leave aside the indigenous population, as it is the most affected by inequality and the one that is most isolated from services and aid.

We must take into account the work that important international NGOs carry out in the country, such as Unicef ​​or the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Likewise, there are several non-profit organizations in Mexico that also fight to achieve greater equality among the population. An example of these is CEPAD (Center for Justice for Peace and Development).

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