The New Minimum Working Age for Agricultural Labor in Mexico
Mexico in 2015 barred persons under 18 from working for wages in agriculture. One result was only workers 18 or older on export farms, but not on farms that produce for the domestic market. A reform approved in 2022 allows workers who are 15 to 17 to work for wages in farm jobs deemed appropriate by the Ministry of Labor. Allowing some of the 2.6 million 15 to 17 year-olds in counties with fewer than 15,000 residents to work for wages in agriculture can enable youth to earn wages and reduce labor shortages, but could also reduce school attendance: 73 percent of 15 year-olds were in school in 2020 in counties with fewer than 15,000 residents, 65 percent of 16 year-olds, and 59 percent of 17 year-olds. Additionally, teenage girls are often the main caregivers in poor rural households, since most child care centers and full-time schools have been closed. If these teens start full time work, the social protection system for smaller children must be strengthened.
About the Authors
The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute. Read more