Skip to main content

Municipal Maps of Compliance and Non-compliance with Labor Conditions in Mexico

Mexican agriculture has evolved rapidly in recent years. It has become a force that makes important contributions to the economy and employment in the country. Alongside this growth, labor conditions and incomes of agricultural workers have improved since 2015. Employment of minors in the agricultural industry has also decreased since 2005. 

However, Mexico has a mosaic of labor conditions. Where are the best and the worst labor conditions? Where should labor ministries, human rights commissions, labor unions, civil society organizations, and consumers of agricultural products interested in having their product free of labor violations focus their efforts? 

To inform the decisions of these stakeholders, the CIESAS-TPT team working on farm workers in Mexico’s export produce industry has developed a system of maps that shows, standardized into quartiles of compliance with three basic labor conditions, the 2020 census information on the municipalities (and their crops) where non-compliance is lowest and highest. Municipalities with higher compliance with the law regarding labor conditions are shown in green, whereas those with lesser compliance are shown in red (municipalities left blank lack sufficient data).

Each map analyzes a fundamental labor aspect: 

  • Percentage of salaried workers in agriculture who are minors. As of 2015 it is illegal to employ minors in agriculture. 
  • Percentage of workers who report not being affiliated to the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) medical services. We consider this affiliation to be representative of the formality of the labor contract in general and of the Institute of the National Housing Fund for Workers (INFONAVIT) affiliation. Note that this variable indicates entitlement and not effective access.
  • Percentage of salaried workers that report earning a salary below the minimum wage defined on January 2020. For this variable, the general minimum wage was used. The minimum wage of those in the agricultural sector was defined later, in January 2021. In these maps, the border minimum wage was used in the corresponding municipalities.  

For every state, there are two sets of maps. The first shows the variables for all farm workers, and the second shows the same information, with the same breakdown of quartiles, for Indigenous workers. As will be seen, in some cases there are differences, which in general indicate that Indigenous workers experience worse labor conditions. 

The general worker maps show this information for all municipalities where the extended census questionnaire reports 800 or more agricultural workers. The extended census questionnaire was applied to 10% of all respondents, and it details, among other things, the quality of labor conditions. The maps of indigenous workers show all municipalities where 400 or more indigenous workers are reported. This decision was made to account for the larger margin of error that occurs in smaller samples of workers, given that the extended questionnaire was only applied to a sample of the population. 

The purpose of this system of maps it to better inform decision makers about labor conditions. The information is drawn entirely from the 2020 National Population and Housing Census and the 2019 Agricultural and Livestock and Fisheries Information System (SIAP). Both are official sources. Although SIAP information exists for 2020, it is possible that the pandemic may have affected the collection of SIAP information this year, and so 2019 information is presented. All information is from these sources. No exogenous criteria were used to design the system, nor to "score" municipalities, labor conditions or crops.

For more information, please visit the project website, Journaleros en la Agricultura de la Exportación. 

This project has been made possible by generous grants from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Walmart Foundation.

The findings, conclusions and recommendations presented in this report are those of the author(s) alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either Foundation.