Theses Doctoral

The Small Universe of Social Protection: Labor, Underemployment and Assistance in Mexico’s Welfare State, 1917-1970

Hidalgo Garza, Sara Daniela

This dissertation examines the creation and consolidation of Mexico’s segmented system of welfare provision between and the consequences it had for the people who relied on it for basic medical and economic benefits. The Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), founded in 1943, was responsible for the welfare of formal workers and their families through the provision of general healthcare and pensions in the case of accident, disability, illness, old-age or death. Publicly, Mexican authorities voiced the expectation that, one breadwinner at a time, IMSS would soon become nearly universal. By using IMSS historical sources, statistics, and general population censuses, this dissertation argues that the National Security Institute’s design, which relied on contributions from salaried workers in stable employment relationships, made this project unlikely. The result was that most of the country’s population had to resort to the Secretaría de Salubridad y Asistencia (SSA) for medical and social services; these, however, had been planned to become marginal vis-à-vis an expanding IMSS, and were therefore chronically underfunded and overcrowded, and ill-prepared to tend for the majority of the country’s population. Moreover, as an examination of cases who received social assistance from the SSA during the 1960s show, the services provided by this institution were, unlike those of IMSS, temporary, conditional and often stigmatizing, introducing long-standing inequalities in the social and economic rights that different sectors of the Mexican population could access.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Piccato, Pablo A.
Milanich, Nara
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 1, 2021