She-flation: the accelerating trend in the rate of inflation and the impact for women

Jazmín is the mother of two girls, a responsibility that she does not share with anyone else –although her mother helps her–, her main source of income is a small grocery store installed in the garage assigned to her in her housing complex. Her income is supplemented by the money she receives from the Welfare Program for Single Mothers.

“With the store I live day to day, more so now, because everything is more and more expensive, but when the money for the girls falls, I feel relieved because it is enough to buy almost the entire pantry, sometimes even an ice cream for my girls. and my mom,” he said in an interview for El Economista, a publishing house to which he asked not to share his last names for privacy reasons.

In addition to food, expenses related to the home, school expenses for her two daughters and support for her mother, Jazmín had to manage the household income three months ago because her family fell ill with Covid-19, although they did not need care. doctor, “we only paid for one test and some vitamins for all of us that the doctor ordered”.

And to that list of basic goods and services to lead a life in optimal conditions, women have to add menstrual management products and routine gynecological check-ups. Four women live in Jazmín’s house and face, faced or will face this expense.

Before Jazmín was the head of the household – rented, by the way – in which she lives with her children and her mother in the Iztacalco mayor’s office, the head of the household was her mother, Juana. And like them, in Mexico women lead 3 out of 10 homes, according to figures from the 2020 Population Census carried out by the Inegi (National Institute of Statistics and Geography).

The bad thing is not that women are the heads of the household, but that much more frequently they find themselves with older vulnerabilities: 58% of households where the person in charge is a woman, she is unemployed, economically inactive or is under 15 years of age, according to figures from the National Survey on Household Income and Expenses 2020 (ENIGH) of the Inegi.

Additionally, 33% of households headed by a woman do not have access to medical services and the current average income of households headed by women is almost three times lower than that of those headed by men.

These pre-existing inequalities were exposed at the arrival of the economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, alerted around the world about the differentiated impact for women and the risks of not intervening from public policy. Now that many of these gender gaps have even widened during the recession and also during the recovery, the dreaded phenomenon has arrived: inflation.

What is she-flation about?

Prices are increasing rapidly throughout the world; Most of the countries register inflation rates that significantly exceed their objectives and uncertainty in the energy and agricultural sectors persists due to international conflicts and other external factors. The obvious: this impacts the purchasing power of households. The less obvious: the impact is differentiated for women.

She-flation” or “she inflation” is how this differentiated impact has been conceptualized, which is exacerbated in a country in which more than half of the women live in some condition of poverty or economic vulnerability and this is combined with an unprecedented and sudden movement in the prices of food and energy, components of high incidence in the INPC and the index of the basic basket.

Lemon, onion, tortilla, chiles and meats are some examples worth noting. Not only because they are essential products in the diet of Mexicans, but also because they are foods with an important nutrient content in terms of food safety. And the accelerated trend in its price levels has a direct impact on the domestic economy, especially when households are headed by women: almost 40% of the current expenditure of female-headed households goes only to food.

Housing is another of the generic items that appears month after month on the list with the highest incidence CPI (National Consumer Price Index), although the price level does not register pronounced increases, it does add small increases month by month. In Mexico, 12% of the current expenditure of households headed by women goes to housing and services.

The way in which inflation, especially the non-core component -which includes agricultural and energy products-, is accelerating, produces an additional vulnerability for Mexican women, especially those who are in the lowest deciles, because precisely the basic consumption that they exercise is related to the goods and services that register the highest rates of inflation.

But that’s not all, women, in general, have more precarious jobs, earn less, have higher expenses and even have expenses that are exclusively female. And a fundamental factor: a greater part of women’s income is direct transfers from the government or relatives compared to men.

According to figures from the ENIGH 2020, 24.5% of the current income of households headed by a woman comes from these supports. Therefore, it is important to highlight that, since these transfers are not adjusted in line with inflation rates, a quarter of the total income in these households is in limbo.

The year-on-year inflation rate it stood at 7.28% in Mexico (Banxico’s target is 3% +/- one percentage point) and only the minimum consumption basket index rose 7.9% during this period. But these are not just numbers, they imply a generalized and differentiated increase in supermarkets, markets on wheels, self-service stores, grocery stores, shopping centers, gas stations and in electricity, gas and fuel checks.

Public policy with a gender perspective is essential to remedy these inequalities in the economic apparatus. The feminization of poverty could increase significantly and modest gains in inequality could be erased.

[email protected]

Leave a Comment