More than 20 million children and adolescents in Mexico are estimated to live in poverty, and five million of them in extreme poverty, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today reported in a joint study with the Mexican Government.
“The economy has grown well over the past years but this does not always mean that the poor are better off,” said the UNICEF Representative in Mexico, Isabel Crowley. “The human development indexes in some parts of Mexico are close to those of some of the world’s least developed countries.”
According to the ‘Child and Adolescent Poverty and Social Rights in Mexico’ study, produced by UNICEF and the national social policy evaluation agency CONEVAL, children are overrepresented among the poor.
According to 2010 figures, 46.2 per cent of Mexico’s residents lived in poverty – a figure that rises to 53.8 per cent among children.
The study also found that nearly 14 per cent of Mexican children under five years of age are stunted, meaning they are slowed in their development often as a result of malnutrition. The rate is higher in rural areas and reaches nearly 33 per cent among indigenous children.
“These poverty levels reveal persistent and grave inequities in the fulfilment of child rights,” said Erika Strand, UNICEF’s Chief of Social Policy in Mexico.
“This situation requires an urgent public policy response, to ensure equity and inclusion for all children in Mexico,” Ms. Strand added.
The study highlights that child poverty is very damaging to the individuals and the country overall. “When children live in poverty it can have an irreversible impact on their development, and increases the probability of being passed on to future generations,” UNICEF said in a news release.
It added that the joint study is also a “best practice in measuring poverty” for the agency in upper middle-income countries.