MEXICO CITY – The COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico has caused at least 16 million more people to fall into extreme poverty, according to a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The UNAM report published on Saturday noted that social distancing measures caused the halting of economic activities, which in turn resulted in the loss of jobs and incomes.
“Considering the worst situation, the number of extremely poor by income would have reached 38 million people in May 2020 or 16 million more than in February,” the study said.
The figure is higher than that reported in a study by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), which predicted up to 10.7 million people would fall into extreme income poverty in Mexico.
Meanwhile, taking into account the data from the CONEVAL, which measures poverty in Mexico, and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates for 2020, BBVA Mexico bank calculated that the health crisis in the country would leave some 12.3 million people in extreme poverty.
Moreover, according to the UNAM, the Mexican government needs to spend 15 billion pesos (about $670 million) per month to ensure the basic food basket for 32 million people in extreme poverty in the coming months.
It noted that the annual cost to the taxpayer for this measure would represent or 0.7 percent of the GDP, according to the UNAM study, conducted between February and May this year.
The studies and estimates of the UNAM and CONEVAL have allowed the assessment of the possible impacts of the economic contraction on the income levels of the poorest sections of the population.
The report said that based on a reasonable set of assumptions, the results of the studies of both organizations indicate that the fund transfers made so far by the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador “would not have a significant impact to mitigate the crisis.”
In this regard, the UNAM report called for more cash transfers to those in extreme poverty in the coming weeks to prevent their economic situation from worsening and their social rights from being deprived.