How Mexico Deals with the Gender Income Gap Disparities

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) reveals alarming gender-based income disparities in Mexico. Women earn 35% less than men on average, with mothers earning 57% less than fathers. This disparity underlines the urgent need for gender-centric policies to promote economic equality.

How Mexico Deals with the Gender Income Gap Disparities
Office cubicles where women earn 35% less than their male counterparts. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) has recently undertaken a comprehensive study on income and poverty through a gender lens in Mexico. Their findings, based on the 2022 data from both the National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure (ENIGH) of Inegi and the Poverty Assessment from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval). They offer insightful perspectives on the gender-based income gap and the poverty conditions faced by Mexican women.

The Income Gap: Men vs. Women

On average, women in Mexico earn 35% less than men. While a typical Mexican man earns 9,762 pesos per month, a woman, on average, takes home just 6,360 pesos. This gap widens for mothers, who earn 57% less than fathers. These disparities often force women to be more reliant on external transfers, eroding their financial independence.

However, there's a silver lining. Although the gender-based income disparity still exists, the gap has lessened since 2018. Between 2016 and 2018, women's income grew by 18.5%, while men's income increased by a modest 5.1%. Yet, it's essential to note the nuances: while the ENOE reported a 13% income disparity for Q3 2022, the ENIGH's 35% is more comprehensive, considering not just wages but also additional income sources like property rents and transfers.

Composition of Income

The primary income source for most Mexicans is employment. Men earn an average monthly salary of 7,107 pesos, and women earn 3,903 pesos. This income disparity is attributed to men working longer hours, accessing better-paying jobs, and often holding higher-ranking positions.

Transfers, which comprise pensions, retirement benefits, remittances, scholarships, and social programs, are the second most significant income component. Transfers are especially crucial for women, forming 24% of their income, while men derive just 12% of their earnings from these. An alarming statistic shows women receiving 2.2 times more income from third-party sources compared to men, signaling a trend of decreased economic independence for women.

Sociodemographic Variations

Educational Level: Even though over half the higher education students in 2021-2022 were women, income disparities persist. However, higher educational qualifications narrow the gap. Women with a bachelor's degree or postgraduate qualification face a reduced income gap of 29% and 31% respectively.

States: Between 2020 and 2022, Mexico City led the pack with the smallest gender income gap, followed by Morelos and Sonora. Contrastingly, Yucatán, Chihuahua, and Campeche showcased the widest gaps. Over four years, Sonora, Morelos, Durango, and Michoacán achieved commendable reductions in their gender income disparities.

Parental Status: The income disparity is even more glaring when comparing parents. Mothers earn an average of 6,185 pesos monthly, while fathers earn nearly double, at 11,131 pesos. The more children a woman has, the wider the gap becomes, peaking at 57% for mothers of four or more.

Gender and Poverty

In 2022, 37% of Mexican women lived impoverished, equating to almost 25 million women lacking adequate income for essential goods and services, as well as facing at least one of the six social deprivations. This figure is close to men's poverty rate at 36%. However, women deeply involved in unpaid household work (spending four hours or more daily) saw their poverty rates rise to 41%.

Towards a More Equitable Future

The current economic disparities between genders in Mexico highlight the urgent need for gender-centric public policies. IMCO suggests that Mexico should adopt wage transparency with defined pay criteria for jobs and combat gender occupational segregation. Encouraging more women to join better-paying sectors and roles will be instrumental in achieving gender parity in Mexico's economy.