Demography and economic geography
State of North America. With its 112,336,538 residents at the 2010 census, Mexico recorded a 38% increase in population compared to the 1990 census; in 2014, UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) estimated a population of 123,799,215 residents. While growth has slowed down (in the two decades 1970-90 the increase was 68.5%), the country has seen much more than double its population in forty years. Although significantly decreased compared to previous decades, in 2010 the birth rate was 19.7 ‰ (dropped to 18.4 ‰ in 2013), compared to a mortality of just 5.6 ‰, also due to a limited share of the population. elderly. The country has achieved important improvements in the objectives set by the United Nations (Millennium development goals). Among the most significant, we recall the halving of poverty (calculated on the basis of the percentage of people living on less than 1.25 dollars a day), which Mexico has even exceeded, passing from 9.3% of the population who lived below the threshold mentioned in 1989 at 4% in 2012. However, if we consider multidimensional poverty – measured by calculating deprivation in education, health and living standards – in 2012 45.5% of the population lived still in conditions of poverty and 9.8% in conditions of extreme poverty. According to the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) this reveals that, despite the improvements obtained, the correlation between economic growth and social policies is still insufficient. In 2013, however, Mexico saw an increase in life expectancy to 77.5 years (+10.9 since 1980) and the Human Development Index (HDI) to 0.756, the latter due to the significant increase of the indicator compared to 1980 (+ 27%). Even with respect to the problems caused by hunger and malnutrition, Mexico has made significant progress: the percentage of underweight children under the age of 5 decreased, in the period 1998-2012, from 10.8 to 2.8% (also in this case by improving the forecast, which set the percentage to be achieved by 2015 at 5.4%). Nonetheless, pockets of chronic malnutrition remain in some geographical areas. For Mexico 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.
Today, Mexico is also facing a series of environmental challenges, first of all the loss of its forest ecosystems. UNDP data show that, of the original area of woods and forests that in the past covered 52% of the Mexican territory, 36.3 million hectares (equal to 33.8% of the national territory) had disappeared in 2011. The loss of woods and forests continues, but there are still slight positive signs: while, between 1990 and 2000, 354,000 hectares per year disappeared, from 2005 to 2010 the share fell to 155,000 hectares per year. Sustainable development therefore appears to be an essential objective for a country that the World Bank defines as the second largest economy in Latin America.
Economic conditions. – Many of the dynamics that currently characterize the Mexican economy represent the result of the transition from a state model to a neoliberal one, which has opened the country to economic globalization. In this sense, the accession in 1994, with the United States and Canada, to the North American free trade agreement was fundamental(NAFTA), which, according to Gerardo Esquivel (2011), established the largest and most asymmetrical free trade zone in the world. Mexico has become the United States’ second largest export market and third largest source of imports. In 2012 the country formally joined the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific partnership and gave birth to the Pacific Alliance with Peru, Colombia and Chile. The implementation of neoliberal policies, in the opinion of Christof Parnreiter (2002), in Mexico it took place thanks to a state that proved to be a crucial agent of globalization, accompanying trade liberalization with the opening of the country to foreign direct investment (FDI). The latter have increased the importance of production for export (in particular the maquiladora industry) and the financial sector. The territorial restructuring that characterizes the new phase of globalization is also reflected in new dynamics on the urban-regional level. While, as José Gasca Zamora (2013) states, previously a nuclear organization that gravitated to the urban gigantism of Mexico City dominated, today it has been replaced by a polycentric system, with relative economic and demographic deconcentration, which however is articulated on new forms of concentration and polarization. Mexico City continues to represent a strategic node in the transnational network of global cities, not so much for its megacity size, but rather for the quality of economic relations it establishes on a national and global scale. According to the World Bank, the Mexican economy showed, in 2014, signs of recovery from the previous economic crisis. Recent economic data indicate, in fact, that a recovery is underway, led by manufacturing exports and public spending. However, numerous socio-economic issues are still unresolved: Mexico is, in fact, a country characterized by low real wages, large segments of the population that are underemployed and an unequal distribution of income.
Economic and financial policy
Despite the prudent and credible monetary policy adopted by the Central Bank since the early 2000s, since the second half of 2006 price growth has exceeded the target rate threshold of 3% due to pressures on food and authority monetary policy was forced to adopt restrictive measures. During this period, the public oil monopolist Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos) benefited from the significant increase in the prices of energy products, contributing both to increasing the foreign exchange reserves of the Central Bank, used in part to reduce the country’s foreign debt, and to financing expansionary fiscal measures, such as transfers to local administrations and the various investment programs. However, since mid-2008, the financial crisis, the contraction of the real economy and the decline in the prices of energy products have abruptly stopped Mexico’s economic growth process. After an initial phase in which the Central Bank implemented actions aimed at supporting the national currency and stabilizing exchange rates, the government intervened directly with temporary measures on the financial markets: to contain long-term inflation risks, the restrictive monetary policy was followed by measures aimed at controlling administrative prices. Since 2009, the Central Bank has initiated a phase of less stringent monetary policy and accompanied the depreciation of the peso in order to support the economy, while the fiscal policy authorities have adopted counter-cyclical measures. In particular, in the face of the reduction in revenues caused by the economic contraction and the fall in oil prices, public spending increased to support infrastructure and support the development of the banking system. Other interventions of a temporary nature, financed thanks to the depreciation of the national currency and the profits of the Central Bank, they concerned the disbursement of subsidies to temporary workers and the poorest sections of the population and credit aid to small and medium-sized enterprises. Since 2010, the Mexican government has implemented a fiscal policy aimed at consolidating public accounts pursued by promoting the efficiency of public spending and, on the revenue side, postponing the planned reduction of the tax rate on higher personal incomes and on businesses. The reform of the labor market was carried out in 2012 in order to promote job creation and productivity growth, ensuring a clearer regulatory framework. Other important interventions to promote competition have been adopted: the simplification of administrative procedures and the consequent reduction of the time required for starting up the company, greater protection of the healthy competitive dynamics of internal markets, the fight against situations of abuse of a dominant position. To combat the country’s vulnerability, which is exposed to volatility in the prices of energy products and commercial dependence, especially towards the United States, the government has also adopted a prudent strategy for managing these risks by exercising greater control over the price of exported oil and feeding over time the funds for stabilizing energy prices. During the two-year period 2013-14, to cope with a new slowdown in the economy, the Mexican administration has adopted counter-cyclical measures to increase spending on infrastructure and a wide range of structural reforms in the sectors of labor, education and finance, with the main objectives of increasing productivity and supporting growth. In addition, the government removed the public monopoly in oil production and opened the telecommunications sector to competition.