U.S. Misconceptions About Mexico

I’ve taken four trips to Mexico in the last 18 months, which is the most travel I’ve ever done in Mexico. That being said, I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to exploring the country. I’ve been to every US state, all but one Canadian province and until recently I couldn’t even tell you how many Mexican states there were, let alone how many I’ve been to.

Like most Americans, I haven’t given Mexico the same degree of thought or attention as I had to other parts of the world. Due to differences in culture and language, many people in the US have serious misconceptions about Mexico even though we are next door neighbors (or perhaps because we are).

Here are four things Americans consistently get wrong about Mexico:

Mexico is Poor

It is true that Mexico isn’t as developed as the US, but in the greater family of nations Mexico would be considered a solid middle class country. Mexico ranks 59th in per capita GDP and is ranked only slightly below the top Latin American countries: Chile and Argentina. It rankes even higher in terms of life expectancy, even outranking many rich Gulf States.

Even by the standards of developed nations, Mexico has a growing middle class.

Much of the American perception of Mexico comes from the fact that so many illegal immigrants come to the US from Mexico looking for work. These tend to be some of the poorest Mexicans, yet they are the only Mexicans most American actually see.

The migration trend has been reversing the last several years. 2011 marked the first time since the Great Depression that net Mexican migration to the US actually was negative. Raw numbers are now at their lowest level since the 1950s. This is a combination of the weak US economy combined with rising living standards in Mexico.

A recent Mexican census found 3 million more Mexicans than was predicted, mostly due to migrants returning to Mexico from the US.

Mexicans Are A Race

I was watching a street performer in Venice Beach last year and while he was talking to the crowd he asked for people of all races to clap their hands: “White people. Black people. Asian people. Mexicans. Everybody clap your hands!”

Leaving aside the issue of lumping all Asians together, the street performer was wrong to think that “Mexicans” were a race of people.

What most Americans think of as “Mexicans” are actually indigenous peoples. One of the biggest demographic differences…

Read more: Everything-Everywhere



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