Mexican officials, such as Deputy Finance Minister Santiago Levy, have taken strong initiatives in expanding educational programs by taking a strong approach at the base of the educational pyramid. The initiatives provide incentives for families to keep their children in school through monetary rewards. Originally the plan was met with high skepticism, but over the past 10 years, it has been a significant success. Independent researchers have considered it to be one of the most effective programs. It has been shown to raise education levels, which, in turn, has a positive effect on income and technological development in the country.
In regards to higher education, Mexico has established a large number of research institutions and universities, starting in 1910 with the National Autonomous University of Mexico and over the past 50 years with institutions such as the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute established in 1961 and the Mexican Academy of Sciences established in 1959.
According to information generated by Scopus, a database for scientific publications, Mexico ranks 28th among countries in number of publications produced. While Mexico lags behind many more technologically developed countries in terms of educational programs and research, it is a definite leader in Latin American due to its development of science and technology programs in the 20th Century.
There is significant enthusiasm for technological change in Mexico. In a recent study on opinions on genetically altered plants, it was shown that political figures in Mexico had strongly favorable opinions, a stark contrast to many Western and European attitudes. "Most of the respondents to the surveys consider biotechnology a powerful new tool to address problems in agriculture, nutrition and the environment, and they do not seem to share Europe's fear of potential health risks for consumers. In turn, they are concerned about corporate control of the technology, and the potential impact of such crops on their countries' rich biological diversity." This attitude frequently appears in many different industries, where the thirst for development is strong enough to override some concerns about environmental impact and health.
After a major macroeconomic crisis in the mid-nineties, Mexico is currently one of the fastest growing economies in Latin American and a regional leader in science and technology programs. Mexico is addressing its poverty concerns through a wide variety of means, however, with its justifiable focus on more immediate concerns, overall investment in science and technology programs remains low with its annual investment in research and technology development at 0.31% of it GDP. This is comparatively low to other developing nations such as China (0.7%), Brazil (0.8%), and India (0.8%).
Wide fluctuations in research and technology development investment persist, with as much as a 50% difference between consecutive years. And despite significant progress in developing research programs with a 9.6% increase in peer-reviewed journals between 1990-1995, the overall productivity remains low at 0.42 publications per researcher per year.
Despite significant gains in their research programs, much of this development has yet to spread to general societal development. This societal development is hampered by two main factors: