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At a glance: Mexico

The big picture

Click for a detailed map (PDF)

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world. Some 43.5 per cent of the population are children under the age of 18. Due to poverty, many children migrate, with or without their families, within rural areas, from rural to urban areas, among urban areas, and to the United States. This results in family instability and a large number of working children. According to 1996 statistics, 3.5 million children aged between 12 and 17 are part of the formal or informal labour force.

Economic growth over the last decade has made Mexico an upper-middle income country, but there remain tremendous disparities and social exclusion. Approximately 24 million Mexicans live in extreme poverty.

UNICEF priorities

UNICEF’s work falls within the commitments of the Mexican State to the New Global Agenda for Children and has adopted a life cycle approach. 

The child rights in public policy programme contributes to developing more coherent social policies for children at federal and state levels; including child rights as a central element in long-term public policies; ensuring the application of the Law on the Protection of Child and Adolescent Rights; increasing the allocation of public resources to benefit children (+ 20/20 Initiative); and increasing equity in access to basic social services across geographic areas, social strata and ethnic groups. The programme consists of ongoing situation assessment and analysis; legislative, administrative and institutional reform; child rights education and research with universities; monitoring of project-level indicators and participatory evaluations.

The programme for special protection of the rights of children and adolescents seeks to improve coverage and quality of special protection services and basic education. Activities will cover three areas: urban children and adolescents at risk or in need of special protection; rural children and adolescents at risk; and border children and adolescents at risk.

The rights of indigenous children programme seeks to promote sustainable local human development in communities with a high proportion of indigenous peoples, based on improved monitoring and analysis, participatory local planning, and enhanced demand creation. The programme will promote culturally appropriate actions in monitoring and analysis of the situation of indigenous children and families, institutional strengthening and community empowerment. Wherever feasible, UNICEF support will also include capacity-building in national disaster preparedness and response.

UNICEF succeeded in convincing the leaders of the four parliamentary groups on the need to put into place an integral reform on juvenile justice. Training and awareness-raising activities were carried out among Senators, including visits to Costa Rica and Brazil to learn about adolescent justice systems. Research was carried out on the situation of children and adolescents under the tutelary system in Mexico. In 2002, the constitutional reform project and the adolescent penal responsibility law project were drafted in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The constant presence of UNICEF in Senate activities was decisive in reaching agreement on the reform.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*


Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*


Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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