Socio-Economic Levels in Mexico: Explained

April 3, 2019 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

Targeting respondents utilizing socio-economic levels for the sample industry is a ubiquitous practice. Defining socio-economic levels in the U.S. is relatively straightforward. A combination of income and education are the most typical factors used in almost all market research studies. On occasion, some studies add a couple more factors but rarely exceed 3-4 elements.

However, defining socio-economic levels in Mexico is much more complicated. As the sample and market research industry continues to grow in Mexico and the rest of Latin America, understanding how socio-economic levels are defined in the region will play a critical role in being successful in winning and fulfilling Mexican market research sample requests.

Mexico has a standardized index called, NSE: Niveles Socio Económicos (Socio-economic Levels Index). The NSE was created by the Mexican Association of Marketing Research and Public Opinion Agencies (AMAI) and is based on a statistical model that allows grouping and classifying of Mexican households into seven levels.

The framework considers six dimensions of well-being within the Mexican household:

  • Human resources
  • Practical Infrastructure
  • Connectivity and entertainment
  • Health Infrastructure
  • Planning and future
  • Basic infrastructure and space

The AMAI currently classifies the households using the "NSE 2018" rule. This rule is an algorithm developed by the Committee of Socio-economic Levels that measures how much households are conforming to the most important household needs. This rule produces an index that classifies households into seven levels, considering the following six characteristics of the household:

  • Level of education of the head of the household
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Number of people age 14+- who are employed
  • Number of vehicles
  • Has access to internet

Socio-Economic Levels

Level A-B.:

Socio-economic level A-B is defined as households in which the head of the family has professional studies (82%). Ninety-eight percent of these households have internet at home. This level invests the most in education (13% of its spending) and spends the least proportion of their income on food (25%).

Level C+.:

Eighty-nine percent of households in this level has one or more vehicles for transportation, and 91% have access to the internet at home. Less than a third (31%) of their spending goes to food and the other (5%) to footwear and clothing.

Level C.:

Eighty-one percent of households in this level have a head of household that has education higher than primary school and 73% have internet at home. Thirty-five percent of their total expenses go to food and 9% to education.

Level C-.:

Seventy-three percent of households in this level has a head of household with education higher than primary school. Forty-seven percent have internet at home. Thirty-eight percent of their total expenditure goes to food and 5% to clothing and footwear.

Level D+.:

Sixty-two percent of households in this level have a head of household with education above primary school. Only 19% have internet at home. Forty-one percent of their expenses go to food and 7% towards education.

Level D.:

Fifty-six percent of households have a head of household with education above primary school, and only 4% have internet at home. A little less than 46% of their spending is on food.

Level D-.:

Most households in this level (95%) have a head of the household that has no more education beyond primary school. Home internet connectivity is minimal (0.1%). This is the level where the highest expenses go to food (52%) and the group in which you see the lowest portion of expenses go to education, only 5%.

The above is meant to give you a broad idea of what a household in Mexico is like in each of the socio-economic levels. To get a deeper understanding of the types of questions that go into the algorithm, we have translated the official questionnaire here for you.

When conducting market research or running sample projects in Mexico remember that socio-economic levels go far beyond income. Mexico is a diverse country with a large middle class. Defining socio-economic levels here is a much more complicated endeavor than in the U.S.