Retrenchment, Expansion and the Transformation of Mexican Social Protection Policies


Address for correspondence: Michelle Dion, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0610, USA. Email:


Social protection policies in Mexico have been transformed since 1988 through partial retrenchment of social insurance and significant expansion of targeted or means-tested social assistance. These changes reflect a substantial redefinition of social protection through incremental changes in policy. The changes reflect the abandonment of the goal of developing an employment-based, universal welfare regime, which had been pursued by Mexican governments as late as the 1970s. Instead, recent administrations have moved towards the redefinition of Mexico's welfare regime into a residual, means-tested model with significant private provision of benefits and services. This shift in social protection is consistent with the change in Mexico's overall economic development strategy and increasing political competition in the process of democratization.