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Mexico's Demographic Challenge

2 MINS READApr 24, 2013 | 14:34 GMT

Video Transcript: With over 112 million people, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world and the second most populated country in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico's demographic profile has two key characteristics. First, Mexico is a young country, as almost half of its population is 25 or younger. The country's annual population growth is 1.2 percent, higher than other Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina, and almost twice as high as the United States. Mexico's second characteristic is its emigration profile. Mexico has traditionally been a country of net emigration, and the United States has been the main destination for Mexican immigrants since the mid-19th century. Mexico has traditionally experienced slow economic development, which has left the country with a large population of unemployed and underemployed workers. With the more prosperous United States to the north, Mexico has been able to relieve some of its social stresses by exporting labor to the U.S., where currently some 12 million Mexicans live. The country's demographic profile is beginning to change. From 1960 until today, birth rates have fallen dramatically, from 6.8 to 2.3 children per woman. Mexico is projected to fall below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman only after 2025. At the same time, average life expectancy in Mexico increased from 67 to 77 years in the last three decades. This combination of high fertility rates and rising life expectancy means that the Mexican labor force will continue to grow until at least mid-century. As a result, the country will continue to have a significant amount of young workers able to fuel the Mexican economy and potentially emigrate. A growing labor force means a growing consumer base, a growing tax base and less pressure on the country's pension system. However, it also means more pressure on both the public and the private sector to generate employment and prevent social unrest. Therefore, Mexico's main demographic challenge will be to provide education and job training to this mass of workers, and to successfully incorporate them into the labor market.

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