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indicator value unit
Population 118.4 mil.
Visitors per year 76.7 mil.
Renewable energy 8.7 %

How’s Life?

Mexico has made tremendous progress over the last decade in terms of improving the quality of life of its citizens, especially in the areas of education, health and jobs. Notwithstanding, Mexico performs well in only a few measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Mexico ranks close to  the average in subjective well-being and civic engagement, but below average in the dimensions of jobs and earnings, health status, environmental quality, housing, income and wealth, social connections, work-life balance, personal security, and education and skills.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Mexico, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 13 085 a year, less than the OECD average of USD 25 908 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population more than thirteen times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, nearly 61% of people aged 15 to 64 in Mexico have a paid job, lower than the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 45% of women. In Mexico, almost 29% of employees work very long hours, one of the highest in the OECD where the average is 13%.About 35% of men work very long hours compared with 18% for women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Mexico, 37% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 75% and one of the lowest rates amongst OECD countries. This is truer of men than women, as 39% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 36% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 417 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Mexico, girls outperformed boys by 1 point, less than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Mexico is almost 75 years, five years lower than the OECD average of 80 years, and one of the lowest in the OECD. Life expectancy for women is 77 years, compared with 72 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 29.8 micrograms per cubic meter in large urban areas, considerably higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. Mexico also performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 67% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, below the OECD average of 81%, and one of the lowest rates in the OECD.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and level of civic participation in Mexico, where 77% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, lower than the OECD average of 88%, and one of the lowest figures in the OECD. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 63% during recent elections, lower than the OECD average of 68%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; but in Mexico there is little difference across society. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 63% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 61%, and suggests there is broad social inclusion in Mexico’s democratic institutions

In general, Mexicans are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Mexicans gave it a 6.7 grade, slightly higher than the OECD average of 6.6.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Mexico 2015

OECD's 2015 Economic Survey of Mexico examines recent economic developments, prospects and policies. Special chapters boosting growth and reducing informality as well as sharing the fruits of growth.

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Mexico in Detail