Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 59–90 | Cite as

Dynamics of Economic Security Among the Aging in Mexico: 2001–2012

  • Deborah S. DeGraff
  • Rebeca Wong
  • Karina Orozco-Rocha
Original Research


Similar to other developing countries, population aging in Mexico has accelerated, raising concerns that economic disparities will widen even more. We use data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study for 2001 and 2012 to derive measures of economic security—income and its sources, and wealth and its components—and describe how they changed over time and varied across key characteristics. The database is unique for a developing country: longitudinal and spanning a relatively long time period, and nationally representative of older persons (n = 12,400; ages 50+). We conduct descriptive analysis for the full sample, and for sub-samples defined by “safety net” indicators, health status, and demographic characteristics. Given that this time period included crucial economic and social changes in Mexico, we derive period results, measuring differences across time in two cross sections; and longitudinal results, capturing changes among individuals as they age. In-depth examination of income and wealth identifies important contributors to old-age economic security in Mexico; we confirm several expected patterns and provide first evidence about others. Older adults with low income and asset values in Mexico have less diverse income sources and asset types; real incomes of older persons decreased substantially, and their income and asset portfolios became less diverse over the period. With older age, Mexicans relied more heavily on transfers and family help, and less on earnings. Overall, limited safety net options and worse health conditions were associated with less robust and deteriorating economic profiles.


Aging Mexico Economic security Safety nets Health MHAS longitudinal data 



Funding for this project was received from NIH-National Institute on Aging grants AG04880901 and AG018016. We also acknowledge financial support from the Bowdoin College Faculty Development Research Fund. Helpful comments were received from Jere Behrman, Rosella Calvi, Alberto Palloni, Telesforo Ramírez and session participants at the meetings of the Population Association of America, Sociedad Mexicana de Demografía, and Southern Economics Association.


  1. Aguila, E., & Zissimopoulos, J. (2013). Retirement and health benefits for Mexican migrant workers returning from the United States. International Social Security Review, 66(2), 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banco de México. (2016). Sistema de Información Económica. Balanza de pagos. Retrieved February 26, 2016, from
  3. Banerjee, S. (2013). Income composition, income trends, and income shortfalls of older households. Employee Benefit Research Institute Issue Brief No. 383.Google Scholar
  4. Barrientos, A., Gorman, M., & Heslop, A. (2003). Old age poverty in developing countries: Contributions and dependence in later life. World Development, 31(3), 555–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barrientos, A., & Mase, M. (2012). Poverty transitions among older households in Brazil and South Africa. European Journal of Development Research, 24, 570–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Behrman, J. R., & Parker, S. W. (2013). Is health of the aging improved by conditional cash transfer programs? Evidence from Mexico. Demography, 50, 1363–1386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Comision del Seguro Popular. (2013). Sistema de Protección Social en Salud: Informe de Resultados. Enero-Junio: Secretaría de Salud.Google Scholar
  8. Cutler, D. M., & Lleras-Muney, A. (2006). Education and health: Evaluating theories and evidence. No. w12352. National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  9. DeGraff, D. S., & Wong, R. (2014). Modeling old-age wealth with endogenous early-life outcomes: The case of Mexico. The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, 3, 58–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dorantes, C. A., & González, L. J. (2013). Old-age government transfers and the crowding out of private gifts: The 70 and above program for the rural elderly in Mexico. Working Paper 2013-17, Banco de México.Google Scholar
  11. Gerst, K., Michaels-Obregon, A., & Wong, R. (2011). The impact of physical activity on disability incidence among older adults in Mexico and the United States. Journal of Aging Research, Article ID 420714.Google Scholar
  12. González, L. J., & Pfutze, T. (2014). The effects of a non-contributory pension program on labor force participation: The case of 70 y Más in Mexico. Working Paper 2014-12, Banco de México.Google Scholar
  13. Hurd, M., Juster, F. T., & Smith, J. P. (2003). Enhancing the quality of data on income: Recent innovations from the HRS. Journal of Human Resources, 38(3), 758–772.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. INEGI. (2000). XII Censo General de Población y Vivienda 2000. Tabulations of total population by age and sex.
  15. INEGI. (2002). Encuesta Nacional de Ingreso y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH). Tabulation of Total current income, monetary and non-monetary income of households.
  16. INEGI. (2010a). Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010. Tabulations of total population by age and sex.
  17. INEGI. (2010b). Encuesta Nacional de Ingreso y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH). Tabulations of Total current income, monetary and non-monetary income of households.
  18. INEGI. (2012). Encuesta Nacional de Ingreso y Gastos de los Hogares (ENIGH). Tabulation of Total current income, monetary and non-monetary income of households.
  19. Iniguez-Montiel, A. J. (2014). Growth with equity for the development of Mexico: Poverty, inequality and economic growth (1992–2008). World Development, 59, 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kinsella, K., & Phillips, D. (2005). The challenge of global aging. In Population Bulletin, Vol. 60(1). Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau.Google Scholar
  21. Knaul, F. M., & Frenk, J. (2005). Health insurance in Mexico: Achieving universal coverage through structural reform. Health Affairs, 24(6), 1467–1476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Knaul, F. M., González-Pier, E., Gómez-Dantés, O., García-Junco, D., Arreola-Ornelas, H., Barraza-Lloréns, M., et al. (2012). The quest for universal health coverage: Achieving social protection for all in Mexico. The Lancet, 380(9849), 1259–1279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lustig, N., Lopez-Calva, L. F., & Ortiz-Juarez, E. (2013). Declining inequality in Latin America in the 2000s: The cases of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. World Development, 44, 129–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mackenbach, J. P., Stirbu, I., Roskam, A. J. R., Schaap, M. M., Menvielle, G., Leinsalu, M., et al. (2008). Socioeconomic inequalities in health in 22 European countries. New England Journal of Medicine, 358(23), 2468–2481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Murillo-Lopez, S., & Venegas-Martínez, F. (2011). Cobertura de los sistemas de pensiones y factores asociados al acceso a una pensión de jubilación en México. Papeles de Población, 17(67), 209–250.Google Scholar
  26. Parker, S. W., Wong, R., & Saenz, J. (2017). Health insurance and the aging: Evidence from the Seguro Popular program in Mexico. Demography (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  27. Purcell, P. J. (2012). Income replacement ratios in the health and retirement study. Social Security Bulletin, 72(3), 37–58.Google Scholar
  28. Robles, G., Calderon, G., & Megaloni, B. (2013). Las consecuencias económicas de la violencia del narcotráfico en Mexico. IDB-Working Paper 426, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, pp. 1–49.Google Scholar
  29. SEDESOL. (2013). Evaluación de Diseño 2013: Programa Pensión para Adultos Mayores. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from
  30. SEDESOL. (2015). Reglas de Operación del Programa Pensión para Adultos Mayores, 65 y más para el Ejercicio Fiscal 2016. Diario Oficial, diciembre 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2016, from
  31. Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal. (2016). Indice SHP de Precios de Vivienda en México 2012.
  32. Smith, J. P. (1999). Healthy bodies and thick wallets: The dual relation between health and economic status. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 13(2), 145–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smith, J. P. (2007). The impact of socioeconomic status on health over the life-course. Journal of Human Resources, 42(4), 739–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Villarreal, M. A. (2010). The Mexican economy after the global financial crisis. Congressional Research Service 7-5700.
  35. Wong, R., & DeGraff, D. S. (2009). Old-age wealth in Mexico: The role of reproductive, human capital, and employment decisions. Research on Aging, 31(4), 413–439.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wong, R., & Espinoza, M. (2003). Ingreso y Bienes de la Población de Edad Media y Avanzada en México. Papeles de Población, 9(37), 1–39.Google Scholar
  37. Wong, R., & Espinoza, M. (2004). Imputation for non-response on economic variables in the Mexican Health and aging study (MHAS/ENAMSEM) 2001. Project Report.Google Scholar
  38. Wong, R., & Gonzalez-Gonzalez, C. (2010). Old-age disability and wealth among return Mexican migrants from the United States. Journal of Aging and Health, 22(7), 932–954.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wong, R., Michaels-Obregon, A., & Palloni, A. (2015). Cohort profile: The Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS). International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(2), e2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wong, R., Orozco-Rocha, K., Zhang, D., Michaels-Obregon, A., & Gonzalez-Gonzalez, C. (2016). Imputation for non-response on economic variables in the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS/ENAMSEM) 2001. Project Report.Google Scholar
  41. Wong, R., & Palloni, A. (2009). Aging in Mexico and Latin America. In P. Uhlenberg (Ed.), International handbook of population aging (pp. 231–252). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wong, R., Palloni, A., & Soldo, B. J. (2007). Wealth in middle and old age in Mexico: The role of previous U.S. migration. International Migration Review, 41(1), 127–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsBowdoin CollegeBrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Sealy Center on AgingUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalvestonUSA
  3. 3.Independent ResearcherColimaMexico

Personalised recommendations