Mexico’s middle class is struggling

07/22/21

Source: The Economist

Fifteen years ago Maria, a school secretary, and her husband Samuel, a technician at an electronics firm, had just bought a car when they found out she was pregnant. They couldn’t afford the payments with a baby on the way, so they returned it. Today the couple and their three children live in a three-bedroom house in Tesistán in western Mexico, and have just bought a second set of wheels. They eat out once a fortnight and have a subscription to Netflix, a video-streaming site. “My children used to ask me if we are poor and I would say ‘No, we have food, a roof over our heads, clothes, and we are moving ahead’,” says Maria. “For me and my husband this is the best moment we’ve had yet.”

In recent decades Mexico, like many emerging markets, has witnessed the growth of its middle class. Incomes have risen—Maria and Samuel bring in around 20,000 pesos ($1,000) a month, an increase of more than 50% in real terms since they first got together 16 years ago. More people like them have bought cars, fancy TVs, smartphones and nice clothes. But recently the middle class, long neglected by politicians, has had two setbacks, thanks to covid-19 and the policies of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

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