NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 30, 2009

Long known for big families with numerous children, Mexico is going gray, says USA Today. 

"We are getting older as a country and we are going to have many more seniors in the population, and we are going to be living much longer," says Alejandro Orozco, director for the country's National Institute for Older Adults. 

Comparing Mexico and the United States:

  • People 60 and older now make up about 9 percent of Mexico's population of 111 million -- up from 5.7 percent in 1975.
  • In the United States, that aging population has grown more slowly, from 14.8 percent in 1975 to 18 percent now.
  • At the same time, Mexico's fertility rate has rapidly dropped to 2.1 children per woman -- the same as the United States rate -- from 4.4 in 1981.
  • By 2050, a quarter of Mexico's population, 24.4 percent, will be 60 or older, nearly on par with the United States at 26.9 percent, according to projections by the United Nations.

Mexico's new emphasis on social programs is an improvement, many seniors say.  In the past, the Mexican government offered few benefits to seniors because children usually took care of their aging parents, but the dropping birthrate means there are fewer children to share the responsibility, says USA Today.  The federal government stepped in two years ago by:

  • Giving subsidies of 500 pesos a month, about $38, to people 70 and older in poor areas
  • Promoting nationwide shoppers' discount card so more people would sign up.
  • Opening a Geriatric Institute to train doctors.

As for Mexico City:

  • Mexico City also started its own subsidy program in 2001, giving $61 a month to people 68 and older.
  • In an affluent area where elementary schools have closed or shrunk because families are having fewer children, the city government opened a university in April for people 60 and older.
  • This year, the city launched a network of gerontology clinics that dispense free Viagra, along with hundreds of other medicines.

Source: Sergio Solache, "Mexico Launches Programs for Seniors as Nation Ages Quickly," USA Today, September 29, 2009.

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