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Older is better?

30 September 2013

Quite a shock to realize how effective birth control has been in Mexico… while the 2010 census showed that 6 percent of Mexicans were age 65 and older, by 2016, the percentage of Mexicans of the “third age” (our euphemism for “old”) will be 15 percent.

Huehueteotl, god of old age (Museo Nacional de Antropología)

Huehueteotl, god of old age (Museo Nacional de Antropología)

Although the first effective oral contraceptives were developed in Mexico in the 1950s,  it wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that access to birth control became a priority for Mexican health officials.  Despite the stereotype of Mexico as a “Catholic country”, there has been little or no objection to making birth control (including the “morning after pill”) widely available.  Rather cautiously, but still radical for the time, the Mexican Constitution was amended in the early 70s to guarantee the rights of families “to determine the number of its own members”.

In good part because of birth control and comprehensive pre-natal care, Mexican women saw a dramatic rise in their life expectancy and more Mexicans than ever are living past the age of 65. And having less children.  I am not sure whether this is good or bad for the economy … overall, it is probably good (less mouths to feed, less resources to use, and more job openings for the underemployed better-educated young adults of today).

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