Mexican political parties participating in the country's 2018 elections are aware of the inequality is one of the populations biggest problems and have included it in their campaigns, but a recently published study shows that they have failed to propose plans to adequately address the issue.
The study, which was undertaken and published, by El Colegio de Mexico (Colmex) also said that officeholders failed to understand the connection between government policy and inequality.
Using case studies such as Maria Basilio, who was born in a rural Indigenous Mixe community in Oaxaca and had no access to formal State education opportunities, Colmex showed how government policy continued the cycle of poverty.
Basilio never had the opportunity to learn to read because of her family's socioeconomic circumstances, which forced her to focus on household and other domestic duties. She was also married off at an early stage to a construction worker that later emigrated to the United States and had four children that didn't finish high school. When Basilio arrived in Mexico City, where she was discriminated against, she cleaned houses for 10 hours a day but has no health insurance nor retirement fund.
Matilde Arriba another case studied by Colmex was born on the same day as Maria but in a northern, prosperous city. One of her parents was a doctor, and the other was a nurse, she managed to graduate from a public college and learn English. She got married to a lawyer, and their children graduated from bilingual schools. The opportunities she received allowed her to enjoy a good salary, excellent health insurance and to pay for her daughters to study in the U.S.
The stories of Maria and Matilde open the report, which attempts to illustrate the way policy and access to opportunities influence life outcomes. According to the report, only two percent of the persons living in poverty can escape their circumstances and reach upper class.
“In this study, we understand inequalities as the unequal distribution of results and access to opportunities among individuals and groups,” the report says, trying to understand inequality in a more broad way, leaving behind one-sided concepts.
The report identifies inequalities in income, education, territory and gender issues, among others, and takes into account factors that influence in a person's access to employment and social security to understand how social mobility works in the country.
“If you understand inequality just as poverty or lack of economic development, you don't see all those other dimensions and therefore think in limited public policies,” said Maria Fernanda Somuano, a researcher on political participation at Colmex.
Somuano finds it troubling that the current political coalitions running for the 2018 elections have not been able to present clear policies to address inequality issues.
“They say very little about how and don't explain what kind of specific public policies one must implement to reverse them [inequalities]. This happens because parties don't have a clear idea about all the range of factors that contribute to inequality and how they accumulate in people's lives,” said Somuano.
The report states income and mobility, education and employment as the classical factors that contribute to inequality, and adds up two that are increasingly disrupting humanity's ways of life: environmental risks and migration. All these, besides, are transversely affected by genre and territory.
According to the report, women, people with low income and the indigenous population are the groups that find it most difficult to access life's necessities.
Women in Mexico have one of the lowest employment rates in the world since only 45 percent work, and they make between 13 and 15 percent less than men doing the same job. Indigenous people have less access to education and have a low graduation rate, besides they face several types of discrimination. Climate change is affecting rain seasons, temperature, food production, sea levels. Migrants returning to Mexico often find their social networks decimated and aren't able to get a decent, well-remunerated job.
But parties still aren't able to formulate public policies to address these issues. They talk about inequality in superficial ways, some more than others, and therefore will combat it in a one-sided, insufficient way.
In a country with low social mobility, ignoring the multiple factors that contribute to inequality won't solve the problem.