Is the Mexican Dream a Reality? 12 Charts Explain

Better pay, work and education are smashing the conception of Mexico as a developing nation. But is the Mexican Dream a reality?

A recent New York Times article profiled 23-year-old Ivan Zamora. Ten years ago, Zamora might have left Mexico already in search of work. Today, he’s doing an engineering internship at a Volkswagen factory near the city of Guanajuato.

Poverty is still a major problem in Mexico, however. While Mexico has the 13th largest economy in the world, half of the country still lives in poverty, according to Mexican government data.

The takeaway: Mexico has made huge economic strides, but still lacks the prosperous middle class that could make the Mexican Dream a reality.

Here are 12 illustrative charts from the 2012 book “Mexico: A Middle Class Society, Poor No More, Developed Not Yet” that show the mixed picture of economic development:

While the middle class is earning more, they’re still much close to the bottom of the economic ladder than the top.

Mexico’s GDP has grown fast, placing it among the top economies in the world.

Still the growth over the last few decades lags behind other nations (Note: the chart below incorrectly shows North and South Korea as a single country).

Poverty has greatly decreased but 18 percent of the country still lacked access to sufficient food and nutrition in 2008.

Life expectancy has skyrocketed.

Infant mortality has gone way down.

People are going to school longer.

But the average of 8 years of schooling is still far below the 13-year average in the U.S.

The percentage of people going to college has gone up.

People are eating a lot more meat!

A lot more people have access to things like running water, toilets and electricity.

And many more people own homes.

This post was updated on Nov. 25, 2013, at 11:45 a.m.