But not everything in the CONEVAL report was rosy. Multidimensional extreme poverty measures changed little, due mainly to deficits in social rights (not income).
One key factor is poor access to health care where a decline was reported. The conclusion is not entirely fair. The survey measured people who were “affiliated” with a particular health service — just as the AMLO administration is transitioning to a model where anyone can be seen in a public hospital, without needing affiliation. Many people likely answered “no” without being aware they could access the same — or better — services as before.
But the administration shouldn’t be let off the hook. After rushing to cancel the (admittedly flawed) Seguro Popular health program for the uninsured, it squandered 2019 botching the rollout of its replacement, INSABI; then during COVID in 2020–2021 it had to channel health budgets into hospital beds and vaccines. Late in the game, it appears to have found its footing with IMSS-Bienestar, which federalizes health services that had been decentralized by conservative governments of the past.
But this alphabet soup has been composed of clumsy workarounds designed to cope with those left out of the current system, instead of creating a genuinely universal program that assures access to care for everyone.
Despite the impressive gains of recent years, Mexico remains a country with 47 million poor and 85 million with deficits in at least one of the multidimensional categories. With the floor being that low, the “easiest” part now lies behind. Ahead, México must continue to raise wages and support labor rights while attacking intransigent structural problems such as health care — something virtually impossible without a progressive tax reform, an untouchable third rail for MORENA up to now.
None of this should minimize the successes of the last five years. In the face of a pandemic, worldwide inflation, and supply chain shocks, Mexico is reducing poverty.