Mexico has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by slightly more than 8%. The COVID-19 crisis also worsened the income conditions of the most disadvantaged populations, increasing poverty by nine percentage points and extreme poverty by almost eight percentage points based on latest international comparable estimations. Income inequality was already high before the pandemic (around 0.48), as it was in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region (0.46), and had been stable in the last decade. Between March 2020 and May 2021, schools were fully closed for 53 weeks, compared to the averages of 26 weeks in LAC and 15 weeks in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Effective online learning was present in only 33.8% of schools, close to LAC (32.5%) but much lower than the OECD (54.1%).

Public expenditures on health decreased by 0.5 percentage points in the last decade. Before the pandemic, in 2017, they stood at 5.5% of GDP, lower than in LAC (6.8%) and the OECD (8.8%). According to Gallup data, 50.5% of people were satisfied with the public provision of health care in 2020, almost 12 percentage points less than in 2009. This figure is slightly higher than the LAC average (48.2%) but lower than the OECD average (70.7%). In 2018, the latest available year, more than 90% of Mexicans thought that their country is governed in the interests of a few powerful people, one of the highest proportions in LAC (82%).

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Mexico was already focusing on well-being policies aimed at developing a universal model of social rights. Mexico’s conditional cash transfer programmes particularly stand out. However, many poor families still do not benefit from social assistance. On 1 May 2020, the government undertook a constitutional reform that expanded social programmes to address the crisis consequences. COVID-19 relief measures for households mainly came in the form of cash transfers. These included the delivery of bimonthly pension support to the elderly (Programa Pensión para el Bienestar de las Personas Adultas Mayores) and people with permanent disabilities (Programa Pensión para el Bienestar de las Personas con Discapacidad Permanente). Concerning firms, low-cost loans and payment deferrals were made available to small and medium-sized enterprises in both the formal and informal sectors.

Going forward, Mexico aims to overcome the obstacles that currently inhibit social inclusion, advancing in tackling poverty and inequality. Mexico is committed to the execution of comprehensive interventions aimed at guaranteeing the social rights already established in the constitution. This structural transformation will also create opportunities for the development of human capital and productivity.

The COVID-19 pandemic was at the core of Mexico’s international co-operation projects both within and beyond the region. The priority was given both to immediate needs, with a special focus on assisting LAC neighbour countries, and to measuring the socio-economic impact of the crisis to implement better policies in the medium and long term. Within LAC, Mexico’s co-operation efforts were characterised by support and assistance to neighbours. They include the donation of medical ventilation devices to Central America and the Caribbean countries and, in collaboration with Argentina, the production and distribution of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in the region, as well as co-operation to facilitate administration and approval of the Sputnik V vaccine. Mexico also participated in an initiative for adaptation and resilience to climate change in the Caribbean (Mexico-Caribbean Community-Food and Agriculture Organization), an initiative for strengthening food security (Mesoamérica Sin Hambre), and the implementation of a platform to reinforce the tourism sector through virtual training with the countries of the Pacific Alliance. Beyond LAC, within the framework of the EUROsociAL+ co-operation programme with the European Union, support has been provided to promote employment for vulnerable populations. EUROsociAL+ has also supported policies aimed to protect migrant children and adolescents in the context of the Mexico-Guatemala Binational Border Strategy.


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