social pensions in Zacatecas (Mexico)

Note: this is the last state in this series. Soon I will begin pulling all of this information together, and attempt to make sense of it. Mexico contains an incredible number of laboratories, of varied experiments with social pensions. Why do some states have generous social pensions while others have none? This are questions that I intend to ask, and then search for answers.

Centre-left PRD governor Amalia D. García Medina introduced Zacatecas to social pensions in 2009, with a programme called “Al Rescate de los Abuelos”. Benefits were (and still are) 400 pesos (US$30) a month. The intent is to target those poor who are 70 years of age or older and live in urban areas that are outside the federal 70+ scheme. Both schemes – state and federal – pay cash benefits bimonthly.

Miguel Alejandro Alonso Reyes, who is a member of the traditional PRI, replaced Ms Garcia as governor on 12 September 2010. One of Mr Alonso’s first acts was to change the name of the social pension to “Sumando a los Abuelos” and reduce the targeted number of beneficiaries by two-thirds: from 8,500 to 2,500. Otherwise the programme remains the same. Only its name was changed and – importantly – the number of beneficiaries. By September of 2012 the government could boast of a large increase in beneficiaries (from the new, lower level) to 2,998.

The federal 70+ programme is expanding rapidly in Zacatecas, reaching urban as well as rural communities. The number of 70+ pensioners increased from 64,533 at the end of 2011 to 69,911 in June of 2012. The goal is to have 71,817 registered pensioners by the end of 2012. How does the Zacatecas social pension, received by about 3,000 seniors, fit into the federal scheme? According to the rules of the state scheme, it should soon cease to exist. Beneficiaries of the state scheme are explicitly prohibited from receiving a 70+ pension. Since the 70+ pension is 25% larger than the state pension, there is no question that recipients will be eager to leave the state system.

Despite what is written in the legislation, the director of the department in charge of “Sumando a los Abuelos” believes that his programme can function in harmony with the federal scheme and that, together, the two programmes can provide ‘universal’ support to those who need it in the population aged 70 years and older. I see a number of difficulties with this vision. First, the coverage of the federal system is huge compared to that of the state system: there are more than 20 seniors in the federal 70+ scheme for each senior in the state scheme. Second, unless the state pension is increased to at least the federal level, this ratio will explode. No-one will want to remain with a state pension when they have access to a larger federal benefit. Third, state pensions could be increased to the federal level, but this would not be a good use of scarce state funds, as the benefits would otherwise be paid from the federal budget. It would be more useful to use state funds instead to provide pensions to residents who are aged 65 to 69 years, but have low incomes and so are unable to continue working because of age or disability.

Below are two news articles (in Spanish). The first (November 2010) discusses the decision to reduce the number of beneficiaries in 2011. The second (October 2012) reports the opinions of the director of the Sistema Estatal para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (SEDIF) concerning future co-operation between the income-tested “Sumando a los Abuelos” scheme and the pension-tested federal “70+” scheme.

El Sistema Estatal DIF hará un recorte al padrón de beneficiarios de … “Al rescate de los abuelos” ….

El director del DIF Estatal, Héctor Pastor Alvarado, señaló que se necesita un recurso muy alto para apoyar a los actuales beneficiarios, por lo que se planteó una disminución. ….

El padrón de beneficiarios estaba integrado por 8 mil 500 adultos mayores ….

Dado que la dependencia no cuenta con los recursos necesarios para la operación de los mismos, se realizará una disminución al padrón, pues aseguró el director “no contamos con ese presupuesto mensual ni anual”.

Héctor Pastor explicó que el número de beneficiarios será de 2 mil 500 apoyos para los abuelos …, para no retirarlo totalmente sino seguirlo entregando “de acuerdo a las posibilidades del presupuesto”

Añadió que en el caso del apoyo a los abuelos se enfocará a los municipios del estado … donde no se otorga el beneficio del Programa 70 y más de la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (Sedesol).

Julia Amador, “Recortará DIF Estatal apoyos a abuelos y jefas de familia“, Zacatecas@linea, 03 de Noviembre de 2010.

 

Héctor Zirahuen Pastor Alvarado, director general del Sistema Estatal para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (SEDIF), mencionó que se pretende incrementar los apoyos para los adultos mayores de la entidad; para lograrlo se tendrá que agrupar los beneficios que otorgan los programas sociales 70 y Más y Sumando a los Abuelos.

El funcionario expresó que, a invitación de la Secretaría de Desarrollo Social (Sedesol) y los sistemas DIF de Guadalupe, Zacatecas, Fresnillo y Jerez, abrirán ventanillas de atención para que 4 mil ancianos que cuenten con los requisitos necesarios puedan ser incorporados al 70 y Más.

“Gracias al trabajo conjunto se logrará apoyar con mil pesos [cada dos meses] a los abuelitos”, externó el funcionario. ….

El propósito de estos programas es alcanzar la universalidad de atención en apoyo a las personas mayores de 70 años de la entidad.

Buscan incrementar recursos en programas para adultos mayores“, NTR Zacatecas, 4 October 2012.

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