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What is Middle Class in Mexico?
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1133
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: What is Middle Class in Mexico? Reply with quote

I'm starting a new thread because we are getting quite a ways off topic in http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/posting.php?mode=reply&t=95839

I think there is a VERY wide range of people who would self classify themselves as middle class in Mexico. I live in a housing development where almost all the owners of the houses bought them through a Mexican government sponsored housing scheme. I reckon that 100% of my neighbors would think describe themselves as middle class. After all they all like in finished houses with glass in the windows, solid floors, running water and a sewage system. We don't need to look very far outside of our development to see families that don't have any of those things. So no one living here would think they are poor. Also, the houses come in two sizes, but even the largest ones are smaller than most US homes, so no one living here would think of themselves as rich either. If they aren't poor, and they aren't rich, then they must be middle class, right?
But yet, it's clear there is a lot of variety. A lot of the neighbors work at the university where I work, so I have an idea about what the earn. There are a few in which both members of the couple are professors--their combined income must be approaching 40,000 a month. A few houses down is a garderner at the university, his wife doesn't work. He probably earns less than 7,000 pesos a month. And I'm sure some of my neighbors earn less than that--there are taxi drivers and welders, carpentiers, hair stylists. All whose earning are variable.

Yet, they all consider themselves middle class.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1133
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/opinion/sunday/on-the-middle-class-lessons-from-latin-america.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Is this written by the same Jorge Castaņeda who was Fox's Forigen Affairs Secretary? and Presidential Candidate in 2004?
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting topic. I live in a fairly mixed area, income wise, with a mix of teachers, lawyers, dentists, accountants, small business owners, but some taxi drivers and skilled trademen. Pretty much everyone owns their own house or apartment. There are two houses that I would consider very upper middle class, in terms of size and beauty. I think home ownership is what makes many people feel middle class. Maybe having enough to live on, and a little extra. I think in the US it is less economic and more education that determines if you are middle class, but not so much in Mexico, where a taco vendor can make more than a teacher (and often does).
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Guy Courchesne



Joined: 10 Mar 2003
Posts: 9402
Location: Mexico City

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF wrote:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/opinion/sunday/on-the-middle-class-lessons-from-latin-america.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Is this written by the same Jorge Castaņeda who was Fox's Forigen Affairs Secretary? and Presidential Candidate in 2004?


Indeed it is...he is a professor at NYU currently and has taught at Berkely and Princeton. Great book of his from last year is Maņana Forever?.
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guy Courchesne wrote:
MotherF wrote:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/opinion/sunday/on-the-middle-class-lessons-from-latin-america.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Is this written by the same Jorge Castaņeda who was Fox's Forigen Affairs Secretary? and Presidential Candidate in 2004?


Indeed it is...he is a professor at NYU currently and has taught at Berkely and Princeton. Great book of his from last year is Maņana Forever?.


I don't know how great the book Guy mentions is, but here is what Casteņeda has to say about the Mexican middle-class:

"According to one definition of the middle class used in recent research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the middle class is in the majority in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, . . ." Too bad he doesn't give us a few details about how the OECD definition was arrived at. As several of us have said in another thread on this forum, the idea that half of Mexico is middle-class is a highly questionable statistic.
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Guy Courchesne



Joined: 10 Mar 2003
Posts: 9402
Location: Mexico City

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I raised my eyebrow some when I read that (part of the preface in his book)...I suspected it was a mistranslation from Spanish actually. Mexico as a country is referred to as a middle-class or middle income country, talking about GDP and what not, without specifying on classes or family income.
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Guy Courchesne wrote:
I raised my eyebrow some when I read that (part of the preface in his book)...I suspected it was a mistranslation from Spanish actually. Mexico as a country is referred to as a middle-class or middle income country, talking about GDP and what not, without specifying on classes or family income.


Not a mistranslation since the NYTimes article I quoted was written by Castaņeda in English.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would definitely help to have statistics with it. I guess it is who you are comparing yourself to when you use subjective measures. In the US there are people who consider themselves middle class who are affluent and people who consider themselves struggling who would be considered affluent in many other countries.

But there are so many things that complicate it esp how strong the safety net is and how good pub services are.

When I think of living on a median income, one pic comes to mind when I visualize Switzerland and a completely diff pic comes to mind when I imagine it in Somalia.

Mexico is somewhere in between but based on my limited time spent there I would imagine a median income in Mexico would be considered a lower working class one in the US. But just a hunch.
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

boomerexpat wrote:


Mexico is somewhere in between but based on my limited time spent there I would imagine a median income in Mexico would be considered a lower working class one in the US. But just a hunch.


It probably would, if you convert the income into dollars. Some posters are fond of saying if you work at XYZ school you will only make 8 dollars an hour. Fair enough, until you start looking at the buying power of that eight dollars. Public transport in Mexico City costs between 3 and 5 pesos. So 1 dollar gives you between 20 and 30 bus, Metro or Metro bus rides. 2 pesos if you take the government run buses, for 50 rides. $1 won't give you ONE bus ride in most cities in the US. The last time I was in Chicago bus fare was $2.25. Prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are vastly lower than in the US as well. We eat little meat, though we do eat a bit of chicken and probably spend $800 pesos a week on food, and that would include eating out once or twice. (65 dollars) If I tried to duplicate my diet in the US I would likely be talking about $150 or $200 a week. My favorite newspaper costs (La Jornada, lest there be any doubt, hehe) 10 pesos, which is about the same as papers in the US. Chicken, I think, is a little cheaper, though not a lot, and meat is about the same. Electricity costs are probably half, or less than half. Rent for a what would be considered a middle class apartment by most standards can be had for $5000 pesos (to me that is high end, your mileage may vary), which is around $410 dollars. You can't even rent a room in Chicago for that, that would be a bad neighborhood flop house. So, income in a vacuum is not very useful. How much can you buy with it is really a more accurate reflection of how good your wages are.
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 718
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My post in another thread was either ridiculed (yes, I have a sense of humour to some extent) or passed over. So here it is (in part) again...

http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/mexico/overview a portion from the article
Quote:
According to CONEVAL (National Council on Evaluation of Social Development Policy) the number of Mexicans living in poverty increased by 3.2 million from 2008 to 2010, following the global economic crisis. It implies that around 46.2 percent of Mexico's total population (52 million people) live in poverty, mainly in urban areas.
Meanwhile, extreme poverty (those living with less than $978 pesos (US$76) a month in urban areas and less than $684 pesos (US$53) in rural areas (August 2010) ) reduced slightly from 10.6 to 10.4 percent (11.7 million people).

In a country where almost 50% of the population is living in poverty, and another 10% is living in extreme poverty, where is there room for a middle class?

DL

*total pop. of Mexico is about 112 million at this point?
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragonlady wrote:
M
In a country where almost 50% of the population is living in poverty, and another 10% is living in extreme poverty, where is there room for a middle class?



Exactly. And I think most of what Americans would consider middle class is in cities, not small towns. Even people who have money, sometimes a lot of it, in rural areas, rarely live large. And there's not a lot to spend money on anyway. In Melee's town, I think I could easily live on $8000 or $10,000, and live what I would consider to be a middle class lifestyle, maybe even saving a bit each month. So I think in small towns you need less to get more. And if you have an INFONOVIT mortgage you pay based on what you earn, so your mortgage payment could be insanely low. My BIL has an INFONOVIT duplex, 4 bedrooms, pretty good sized, though almost in Mexico state. He has a second, part time job, and his wife also works, so their mortgage is something like 5% of their total income. You really can't say, OK, I would do THIS in the US, so I would do it the same way in Mexico, it won't work. It's a different system, a different set of priorities and a different way of looking at things.
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BadBeagleBad wrote:
And if you have an INFONOVIT mortgage you pay based on what you earn, so your mortgage payment could be insanely low. My BIL has an INFONOVIT duplex, 4 bedrooms, pretty good sized, though almost in Mexico state. He has a second, part time job, and his wife also works, so their mortgage is something like 5% of their total income.


Sounds great. Too bad I can't get one of those INFONAVIT mortgages Sad .
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragonlady wrote:
In a country where almost 50% of the population is living in poverty, and another 10% is living in extreme poverty, where is there room for a middle class?


Great insight and a great question my fellow TEFLer.
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Enchilada Potosina



Joined: 03 Aug 2010
Posts: 344
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EFLeducator wrote:
Dragonlady wrote:
In a country where almost 50% of the population is living in poverty, and another 10% is living in extreme poverty, where is there room for a middle class?


Great insight and a great question my fellow TEFLer.

The Mexican middle class is the 30% that live in the US.
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EFLeducator



Joined: 16 Dec 2011
Posts: 595
Location: NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enchilada Potosina wrote:
EFLeducator wrote:
Dragonlady wrote:
In a country where almost 50% of the population is living in poverty, and another 10% is living in extreme poverty, where is there room for a middle class?


Great insight and a great question my fellow TEFLer.

The Mexican middle class is the 30% that live in the US.


Excellent point EP. Excellent.
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