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People, Population

Mexican economy, Internal migration, federal census, Quintana Roo, active population

Mexico’s population grew rapidly after 1940, when improved living standards and preventive health-care measures produced a dramatic increase in longevity and a decrease in infant mortality. At the 1980 federal census, Mexico’s population stood at 66,246,833. By the 1990 census, the nation’s population had grown to 81,249,645. In 2002 Mexico had an estimated population of 103,400,165. Population density averaged 53 persons per sq km (136 per sq mi). The lowest density in the mid-1990s was in the state of Baja California Sur (5 persons per sq km/13 per sq mi), and the highest was in the Federal District (5,660 persons per sq km/14,652 per sq mi). Those states witnessing the greatest rates of population growth from 1950 to 1990 were Baja California Sur, Mexico, and Quintana Roo. In 2002 the birth and death rates were 22 and 5 per thousand, respectively.

After President Luis Echeverria Alvarez took office in 1970, he argued that rapid population growth would make it difficult for the government to generate positive rates of economic growth per capita. The Mexican economy had not been creating enough new jobs to provide all of its people with employment. The situation was made worse by the fact that an increasing portion of Mexico’s population was under the age of 16, and therefore dependent on the economically active population for support. Consequently, the government began providing family planning information and education. These efforts, complemented by private programs and the increasing levels of education that resulted from migration to urban areas, contributed to a significant decline in population growth rates. These rates dropped from highs of around 3.7 percent per year in the 1970s to 1.5 percent in 2002.

Internal migration has led to a substantial shift in population from rural to urban centers. In 1970 approximately 23 percent of Mexico’s population was living in cities of 100,000 or more people. By 1997 these large cities accounted for 44 percent of the population, indicating that large cities nearly doubled in size in two decades. Mexicans continue to migrate to the cities to seek employment opportunities, as well as better educational opportunities and access to health care.

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