Comparison serves as a tool for knowing if we are okay, if we are staying the same, or improving. Hence, it is interesting to analyze international studies. Let’s see how the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) evaluates Mexico in the most recent examination of its members.
First. Obviously, our country is the most unstable of all the members. Brazil and Russia are positioned slightly better. In contrast, Japan is the most stable. While in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Poland the number of people who claim to have suffered any crime is under 2%, in Mexico, it’s 12.8%, reflecting the severe problem that shakes the Republic, which is also one of the countries lowest in income and equality.
In Mexico, according to the OECD, annual family income is $12,850. That is, of course, if the wealth were shared equally. Since it’s not, the gap between the richest and poorest is very large: the top 20% receive at least 13 times more than the bottom 20%, making Mexico a severely unequal nation.
By that same logic, Mexicans work 2,226 hours a year—the OECD average is 1,765 hours—to make a far lower salary than the other members of the organization.
Although Mexico devotes a large part of its budget to education, the results are extremely low. In fact, only 36% of citizens between the ages of 25-64 have a middle school education, which is far from the average: 75%. This is the country with the lowest education levels in the OECD, while Finland has the highest. Regarding the quality of reading and math levels, the Mexican Republic achieved 417 points, while the average is 497. An important fact is that Mexican women leave school at one percentage point higher than men.
Second. In Mexico, life expectancy has gone up to 74 years; even so, it is less than the average of 80 years. Women have a life expectancy of 77, while men’s is 71. Regarding air contamination, Mexico also fares poorly. The level of PM10 atmospheric particles—those are contaminants in the air that enter the lungs and can damage them—is at 28.9 micrograms per cubic meter, much higher than the average of 20.1 micrograms. Don’t even mention the quality of the water: 20% less drinkable than the average of OECD countries.
Even in personal relationships, Mexicans trust less (as Samuel Ramos and Octavio Paz have documented) than in other parts of the world. In fact, 68% of nationals say they have someone whom they can confide in as needed, while the average is 84%.
One of the great contributions of Mexican simulation is the voter card that one gets because it serves as identification and is free, rather than to exercise the right to vote. Not having a voter’s card is almost like civic death. Nonetheless, Mexico has a participation in elections of 63%, below the 72% average.
Third. Although the previous indicators emphasize that our country has a large window of opportunities for improvement, surprisingly the OECD study confirmed that Mexicans are more satisfied with their lives (82% say they have positive experiences on a normal day—feelings of peace, satisfaction with their achievements, etc.) than the average of 76%.
This fact is worrisome because it reflects either a problem in the survey sample taken by the Gallup polling company or a serious state of denial or avoidance of reality by Mexicans, a large discrepancy between objective quality of life and perceived quality of life. If what Gallup affirmed for the OECD is true, we will have the PRI [Party of the Institutional Revolution] around for awhile, because the most important thing is not the living truth, but the perceived truth.
Mexicans could use the following saying when asked "How are you?", responding between jokes and glances:
“Fucked, but happy.”
Could it be?