Between the State of Baja California, north of Mexico, and that of Chiapas, to the south, distance is not only measured in kilometers. Both entities are separated by an abysmal difference in social mobility, the opportunity to progress socioeconomically. While 82% of the poorest South Californians get promoted, 77% of Chiapas born at the base of the pyramid do not exceed it. They are the two extremes of an X-ray of Mexican mobility published by the Espinosa Yglesias Study Center on Thursday and advanced by EL PAÍS.
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In Mexico, climbing opportunities have a compass. The ten states that best score on this index are located in the north, says the report, the first that takes the analysis of this phenomenon to the state level. There, just over 70% of those born in the poorest quintile get out. On the other hand, the entities with the lowest intergenerational mobility from parents to children are in the south, where only 35% of those born at the base manage to improve their position.
In the State of Baja California, bordering the United States, only 18% repeat at the base of the pyramid; the rest manages to rise and 11% enter the group with higher incomes - the national average in this aspect does not reach 3% -. Mexico City, the country's main financial and educational center, is another island; 87% of its poorest inhabitants ascend and escape the situation as their parents.
The picture changes as one moves south, a journey in which social stratification becomes increasingly sticky. In Oaxaca, 61% of the poorest do not leave that situation. The stagnation finds its peak in the neighboring State of Chiapas, where the children even live worse than the parents. On a scale of 0 to 100, a person born on the 25th step goes back to 21 in adulthood.
In the absence of comparable data in the Latin American region, the study compares the results with the northern neighbors. “The gaps are more marked in the Mexican case; there is greater heterogeneity than between the United States and Canada, ”explains the director of CEEY and co-author of the report, Roberto Vélez. Nuevo León or Chihuahua, two northern regions that are among the best located, have social mobility levels similar to those of Quebec in Canada or Minnesota in the United States. Its citizens can double the socioeconomic level in which they were born. On the contrary, the degree of stagnation in the southern states of Mexico has no mirror in the northern neighbors.
The gap is related, in part, to very different growth rates. Aguascalientes, the automotive and aeronautical investment hub, has grown at an average of almost 6% in the last ten years, three times more than the national average. Only 15% of its population lives in poverty, 67% less than in 2008, according to figures from the National Poverty Assessment Council (Coneval). Chiapas, on the other hand, chained negative growth rates in GDP per capita from 1990 to 2016 and still has 76% of the population living in poverty, practically the same figure as ten years ago.
The Government has launched a battery of social measures to take south from lethargy. The “Youth building the future” program, for example, offers training grants in companies to young people who neither study nor work, one of the challenges to which the report points. Researcher Laura Flamand, from the College of Mexico, believes that it is still early to evaluate the results, but points to the challenges on the ground. "The government's flags are correct, but the instruments have to be tuned to be more effective," he says.
The ability of local authorities to implement public policies also varies. The proportion of public employees with a master's degree is 67% in the State of Puebla and 3% in Chiapas, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) of 2014. “Fighting inequalities in social mobility passes through state governments and municipal and their capacities are very unequal, ”says Flamand.
Advancing the study of inequality is another pending. Many of the data needed to analyze the problem are not public. For this report, CEEY had to combine two surveys; one of the Inegi of 2016 and another of 2017, with 32,481 and 16,665 interviews, respectively. "Unlike other countries, in Mexico there is administrative information that is not available, such as tax or social security data," explains Roberto Vélez. "It is necessary to have them at a time when inequalities between generations are becoming more evident."