Which countries have it hardest to afford the basic monthly food basket?

79% of the Mexican population cannot afford the recommended monthly food basket

Photo: Cuartoscuro

According to recent reports, Mexican labourers earned the lowest average wages of the 35 OECD member countries in 2016. This fact has dire consequences: just 21% of Mexicans can afford to buy the basic monthly food basket because the minimum wage is five times lower than what a family should receive.

Currently, the daily minimum wage is 80.04 pesos, and Mexican labourers earn, on average, $14.63 –  far lower than the OECD average, which stood at $50.21 in 2016. Miguel Reyes Hernández, a researcher in the Department of Social Sciences at the Iberoamericana University in Puebla summed it up perfectly: ‘Income poverty rose from 76% in 2000 to 79% in 2017. This means that 79% of the population cannot afford the basic food basket. Only 21% – including the richest 10% – can afford it.’ 

The researcher went on to say: ‘How can they afford the basic basket if 65 million Mexicans must share 6% of the wealth? How can we aim for lower poverty if the wealthiest 1% of the population share the same wealth as 90% of the population?’

Not surprisingly, the Latin American Jesuit Universities’ Report on Poverty and Inequality has found that Mexico is the country with the greatest gap between salary and poverty line. Social policies have been failing in Mexico since the 90s. The country is in a situation of stagnation in terms of poverty and inequality. In recent years, the country has witnessed an increase in per-person GDP, and yet the wages of most Mexicans have stayed the same, or in some cases, decreased.

These are the 11 OECD countries with the lowest minimum wage:

Mexico: $1895 a year

Russia: $3199 a year

Brazil: $4753 a year

Colombia: $6950 a year

Chile: $6998 a year

Latvia: $7829 a year

Lithuania: $8319 a year

Czech Republic: $8399 a year

Estonia: $8595 a year

Slovakia: $8980 a year

Hungary: $9155 a year

Spain is in 17th place, at $12,317 a year (€11,618).

What is the OECD?

Founded in 1961, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is comprised of 35 member nations. Its mission is to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. It is also one of the world’s principal generators of economic statistics and policy information.


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