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Mexico: Pay and Benefits
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Personnel > Pay and Benefits


The Law of Promotions and Compensation and the Law of Pensions and Retirement were promulgated in the 1920s as a means to regularize military practices, bring the armed forces under the control of the central government, and ensure the stability of the electoral system created by the revolutionary government. These laws, which have been adjusted periodically to meet the changing requirements of the government and the armed forces, form the backbone of the military pay and benefits system.

The three branches of the armed forces provide uniform pay and benefits for equivalent rank and years of service. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, military compensation rose at a faster rate than the cost of living. This situation changed during the 1970s, as pay failed to keep pace either with the rapidly increasing inflation rate or with earning power in the civilian sector. In spite of spiraling inflation during the 1980s, pay raises helped most military personnel keep abreast or slightly ahead of the rising cost of living. Officers of lieutenant rank and above enjoyed comfortable incomes. In the early 1990s, however, pay scales for junior officers were described as so low -- about US$300 a month -- that moonlighting was accepted as necessary to maintain an adequate standard of living.

Although the government does not disclose the allocation of individual items within the defense budget, it is estimated that approximately 60 percent is dedicated to personnel expenses, including administrative costs, salaries, and benefits. Perquisites, bonuses granted for educational achievements, and supplemental pay for those serving in command positions -- from the commander of a company to the secretary of national defense -- add considerably to officers' base salaries. Both the amount and the availability of fringe benefits increase as officers ascend in rank. Additional pay is also provided for hazardous duty assignments.

Pensions are extended on a standard basis to all military personnel upon completion of service and to dependents or beneficiaries upon their deaths. This benefit has been increased on numerous occasions to encourage older officers to retire and thus open positions for younger officers. The mandatory retirement age is between forty-five and sixty-five, depending upon rank, but former secretaries of national defense hold active-duty status all their lives. Under a 1983 modification of the Law of Pensions and Retirement, an officer completing thirty years of service can retire at 100 percent of his or her existing salary and receive the same increases granted active-duty personnel. The minimum benefit for those with fewer years of service is 20 percent of base pay.

The Mexican Armed Forces Social Security Institute (Instituto de Seguro Social para las Fuerzas Armadas Mexicanas -- ISSFAM) and the National Bank of the Army, Air Force, and Navy (Banco Nacional del Ejército, Fuerza Aérea, y Armada -- Banejército) also provide benefits to military personnel and their dependents. Under the ISSFAM, health care is extended through facilities at regional military hospitals in each military zone and the Central Military Hospital in Mexico City. The quality of medical care is reported to be high, and physicians are trained in such sophisticated specialties as microsurgery, organ transplants, and cardiovascular surgery. Banejército offers low-interest credit and life insurance to military personnel and provides financing for the construction of dependent housing at the country's various military installations. Rent for dependent housing is set at 6 percent of an individual's income. Other services and benefits are also available through military zone installations. These services include primary and secondary education for dependents, assistance with moving expenses resulting from service-related transfers, various social services, and access to shops similar to small commissaries. The military also manages a number of farms throughout the country to help produce its own food supply.

Data as of June 1996

Last Updated: June 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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