Novembre 8, 2016

Multidimensional Poverty: The lack of Social Security in Mexico

Multidimensional Poverty: The lack of Social Security in Mexico

The first UN Sustainable Development Goal “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” sets as second target: “By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions”. In Mexico, poverty levels are estimated by a Multidimensional Measurement of Poverty, which is based on income and social rights status, such as access to health services, access to food, housing quality and space, access to basic housing services, degree of social cohesion, education lag and access to social security.

Today, social security deprivation represents a main challenge for social policy due to major obstacles to ensuring access to a social protection system for all vulnerable populations, for instance, limited coverage, budget restraints and complex institutional design.

Based on the International Labour Office (ILO), social security is the social right for receiving protection against social and economic contingencies, which derive from the loss of income because of an illness, maternity, work risks, disability, old age and death, including medical assistance.

In Mexico, the main government institutions that provide social security, whose services are limited to affiliated workers and to their direct relatives, are the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS in Spanish) and the Institute of Security and Social Services for Government Workers (ISSSTE) with the biggest coverage, the Institute of Social Security of the Mexican Army (ISSFAM), the Health Ministry (SSA), and the Popular Health Care (SP). These two latter only provide medical services.

Even when these institutions are based on the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and universality, this last has not been possible to reach due to the existence of vulnerable groups among the Mexican population, which are deprived of such a social right.

According to official data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), around 40% of total population are affiliated to one of these institutions, which means that most of Mexicans are in a vulnerable situation.

Moreover, the most recent official data on poverty in Mexico denotes that, in 2014, there were 55.3 million people in poverty conditions, which represents 46% of the total population. Out of those 55 million, around 44 are in moderated poverty (people who reported to be deprived of at least one social right and whose income falls below the economic welfare threshold) and 11 in extreme poverty (people who reported to be deprived of three or more social rights and whose income is below the cost of the basic food basket).

According to the last official report by the National Council of Evaluation of the Social Development Policy (Coneval), which is the autonomous institution that measures poverty, 70.1 million people in Mexico are deprived of social security and 20.3 million of them are in poverty condition.

For these groups of the population, the federal government has four programs and federal actions, that contribute to solve the deprivation of social security at the local level.

The Ministry of Social Development coordinates the Program of Attention to Elderly, which contributes to the social security through economic transfers to people 65-year-old and older who do not receive income from retirement or contributory pension. This is the only program with direct impact.

In terms of the indirect impact, the same Ministry rules the Program of Life Insurance for Household Heads, which contributes to the provision of social security. It intends to protect the economic welfare of women household heads in vulnerability conditions, and which helps their children in school age to continue studying in case they lose their mothers.

The other two programs are coordinated by the National Institute of Public Health, the Program of Community Development and the Program for the Procurators of the Defense of Children and Family. The first program contributes to the strengthen of the development of abilities in vulnerable households for the implementation of community projects, specifically in those households with children lack of food. The other program contributes to close the health gaps between the different social and regional groups in the country through the implementation of projects that strength the services of social assistance and legal advice.

Around two thousand million dollars are invested in these programs and actions each year, and while it is true that they represent a good alternative for those who suffer the lack of social security, it is true that these actions have not been enough to reach the universality and to solve the condition of vulnerability.

To solve this major problem in the Mexican society it is necessary to re-design the social security scheme and to re-direct it to a more efficient system, with a better budget allocation, more transparency on the use of resources, an extension of the medical services units, and a universalization of its coverage, in general terms.

At the same time, it is necessary to work on this re-design in coordination with a labour reform, which allows workers to access to social security services regardless of their labour status and wage level.

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About Ariadna Diaz

Ariadna Diaz

Ariadna Díaz works for the Evaluation and Monitoring Department at the Mexican Ministry of Social Development. She holds a Master’s degree in Economics from The University of York in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has wide experience in evaluation and design of public policies related to social development, tourism and economic growth.

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