The Mexican social protection system is based on the 1917 Constitution, which lays the foundation for social security in the country. In 1943, the first Social Security Law reaffirmed the public responsibility to guarantee social security and gave way to the creation of social security institutions for workers in the formal economy (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) and civil servants (Instituto de Seguridad y Servicios Sociales de los Trabajadores del Estado, ISSSTE). These institutions continue to form the backbone of social security provision in the country. There are also a number of smaller formal social security systems, usually linked to specific industries or state-owned companies (e.g. oil company PEMEX), which provide social security for smaller groups of workers. The types and levels of benefits and services vary by scheme.
IMSS is the main provider of social security for those 70 percent of workers who are in the formal sector. It was established in 1943, had according to its own statistics a total insured population of over 50 million people in 2010, including 20 million current workers, 3 million pensioners, and their families.
The Social Security and Social Services Institute of State Workers (ISSSTE) established in 1959, covered a total of approximately 11,6 million people in 2009, including 2,6 million active workers, 730 000 pensioners, and their family members.
Private insurance has always coexisted with public social security arrangements, but in the last two decades there has been a trend towards more private sector involvement also within public social security systems. In addition, a considerable share of the population has tended to fall outside of both social and private social protection. In recent years, social assistance spending has nevertheless increased, and there have been concerted efforts to expand social protection.
Federal social assistance programmes for poverty reduction - among them the world-renowned human development programme Oportunidades - were recently integrated under the comprehensive Vivir Mejor human development strategy. The strategy establishes a national social policy and enhances the institutional framework for the promotion of social development. The responsibility for the coordination, design and implementation of the non-contributory social assistance programmes under Vivir Mejor belongs to the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL) in cooperation with other public entities. This arrangement optimises the resource use, avoids duplication, and facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of the wide range of programmes of different sizes, objectives and target groups. It has also contributed to the reduction of poverty and inequality by providing protection against the diverse risks faced in the different life stages.