Mexico’s educational system is differentiated and diverse, but it does not reach all students. The literacy rate is around 95%; it depends on age, region, social and ethnic origin. According to educationvv, there are public and private educational institutions; the relationship is different in the individual educational areas. There is general compulsory schooling between the ages of 6 and 15, preceded by a compulsory pre-school year. The six-year primary school is followed by the three-year lower secondary level. This is followed by a middle vocational school or a two-year upper level, which leads to higher education entrance qualifications. Higher education takes place in the numerous state and private higher education institutions.
Mexico is the second largest Latin American economy after Brazil. The gross national income (GNI) per resident is (2018) US $ 9,180. At the beginning of the 1980s, Mexico got into a severe domestic and foreign economic crisis. The sharp rise in foreign debt and rising international interest rates meant that Mexico had to discontinue its debt servicing in 1982, the inflation rate rose to over 100% in the mid-1980s and GDP growth was negative for the first time in decades.
In response to this, economic policy has been reoriented in a neoliberal direction since the mid-1980s, including the withdrawal of the state from the economy, reduction of state spending, re-privatization of the banks nationalized in 1982, opening of the market (membership of the OECD in 1994, entry into force of the free trade agreement with the USA and Canada [NAFTA; North American Free Trade Area ]). The negative social consequences of this strategy were shown in a drastic loss of real wages, while the economic indicators improved only slowly. Unresolved economic problems developed into a serious crisis at the turn of 1994/95, which could be overcome with international support. Even after 1995 the economic development fluctuated strongly. The reason is the high level of economic dependence on the US economy.
NAFTA was renewed and expanded as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on October 1, 2018 (signed) at the instigation of the USA.
From 2003 to 2008 the gross domestic product (GDP) rose – not least thanks to rising oil prices – by an annual average of 3.1%. As a result of the global economic and financial crisis, the economy contracted by 6.1% in 2009; In the following year, however, it was able to almost reach the pre-crisis level again; In 2016 economic growth was 2.3%. Inflation is only 2.8% (2016). Unemployment is very low at 3.9%, albeit with underemployment of at least 10% and a share of the informal sector of around 55%. Despite some progress, the proportion of the population in poverty remains high, a consequence of the unequal distribution of income and wealth in the country.
Imponderables in the further economic development of Mexico are to be found in the dependence on the economic policy of the USA under the administration of D. Trump and the development of raw material prices on the world market.
Foreign trade: Mexico’s trade balance is negative (2016: imports 387.1 billion US $; exports 373.9 billion US $). The most important export goods are motor vehicles and vehicle parts (23.5%), electronics (16.5%) and machines (10.4%). Primarily primary products, semi-finished products and primary products as well as machines and equipment are imported. The most important trading partners are the USA (46.5% of imports; 81.0% of exports) as well as China, Canada, Japan and Germany.
The agricultural sector generated 3.8% of GDP in 2016 and employed around 13% of the workforce. More than half of the total area is used for agriculture: 26.1 million hectares are designated as arable land including permanent crops (of which 6.3 million hectares are irrigated), around 82 million hectares are designated as pasture land. In 1910 98% of the land was still owned by large landowners. When the land, which had been expropriated by agrarian reform laws since 1917, was distributed, the old Indian community property in the form of agricultural cooperatives (Ejidos) are preferred, but are becoming more and more individualized. The constitutional amendment of 1992 declared the land distribution to be ended and the members of the Ejidos granted the right of free disposal over their parcels. The agrarian reform improved the social situation of the rural population, but the macroeconomic benefit is low, as many small businesses only work for self-sufficiency. The south of the highlands as well as the coastal areas on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico are the main cultivation areas. The most important crops are sugar cane, corn, oranges, wheat, tomatoes, bananas, citrus fruits, chilli and green pepper as well as mangoes, potatoes and avocados. With a grain maize production of (2014) 23.3 million t, Mexico is one of the world’s leading countries. The most important export products are fruit and vegetables, Chilli and green pepper as well as wheat. The formerly important Henequén production (fiber agave) in Yucatán has almost come to a standstill. Livestock cannot fully meet the domestic needs for meat and milk; Cattle, pig and poultry farming are important.
Forestry: 8% of the forest area (around 65.2 million hectares) is accounted for by coconut palms and mangrove stands, 19% for deciduous forests in the temperate zone, 43% for tropical and subtropical forests with precious wood and 30% for coniferous forests. The logging amounts to 44.2 million m 3 (for comparison: Germany 53.5 million m 3) the majority (88%) is used as firewood. In addition to wood, natural resins and fibers, chicle (raw material for chewing gum production in the USA) and tannins also play a role.
Fisheries: Despite the considerable length of the coast (over 9,000 km) and the abundance of fish, especially around the Baja California peninsula, fishing has only developed more strongly in recent years thanks to government funding. The catch amount (2016) is 1.76 million t (for comparison: Germany 211,000 t); 151,000 t of fish are raised in aquaculture.