Winner of first Regional Award for Innovation in Statistics (World Bank)



We would like to express our gratitude to Ford Foundation for its support for the publication of MxFLS-2.


Weights and expansion factors for 2005 are still under construction. Please check website for updates related to this


Introduction to MxFLS


The Mexican Family Life Survey (MxFLS) is a multi-thematic and longitudinal database which collects, with a single scientific tool, a wide range of information on socioeconomic indicators, demographics and health indicators on the Mexican population.  

MxFLS is the first Mexican survey with national representation departing from a longitudinal design, tracking the Mexican population for long periods of time regardless of migration decisions with the objective of studying the dynamics of economy, demographics, epidemiology, and population migration throughout this panel study of at least, a 10-year span.


Sampling Design

The base-line sampling design was undertaken by the National Institute of Geography Statistics and Information (INEGI acronym in Spanish). This base-line is a probabilistic, stratified, multi-staged, and independent sample at every phase of the study.  The scope of the study consists of private households in Mexico during the year 2002. Primary sampling units were selected under criterions of national, urban-rural and regional representations on pre-established demographic and economic variables. Regional definitions are in accordance with the National Development Plan 2000-2006. The approximate sampling size is 8,440 households with approximately 35,000 individual interviews in 150 communities throughout the Mexican Republic.


Conducting the Surveys

The base-line (MxFLS-1) was conducted during 2002.  The second wave of field work (MxFLS-2) was conducted during 2005-2006 with a 90 per cent re-contacting rate at household levels. The 3rd and 4th waves of the survey are programmed for the years 2009 and 2012, respectively.


Multidimensional Vision

The multidimensional characteristics of MxFLS facilitate the inter-relational study of different demographic and socioeconomic phenomenons present in population welfare dynamics. An example of some of these inter-related links pertaining to the welfare, behavior and health of the Mexican people, are:  the relation between an individuals’ health and productivity; the link between loss of family income and the decisions taken to have members of the household migrate within and outside the country along with the decisions connected with the investment of human capital; the relationship of these decisions with population participation in social political programs; or, the impact of crime rates and the perception of community safety, or lack thereof.

Longitudinal Vision

MxFLS is a longitudinal study that throughout time, follows household members who where surveyed for an original base-line, regardless of their decision to reside in Mexico or in the United States. In the future, MxFLS aspires to continue the process of conducting surveys with the original household immigrant members, regardless of their decision to remain in the US or if they return to our country. This information paralleled with information of those who remain on national territory will for the first time, allow us to approach the dynamics of the migration phenomenon Mexico – US. This is done from an integral and national perspective relying on Mexican welfare information before, and after their decision to migrate, along with corresponding information of family members who remain on national territory.

Secondly, the continuation of this panel survey of at least a decade aspires to provide dynamic information about child welfare and their transition into adolescence; about adolescent dynamics on their road into adulthood, and about welfare dynamics of aging adults. The long-term longitudinal characteristic of MxFLS looks to better understand the causes and consequences of, for example, the transition of Mexicans from the economic formal sector to the informal sector and vice versa; the change of residence in search for a better quality of life; to better understand related decisions taken on the ability to leave poverty behind or to live in it within a structural form; the capacity of creating long-term savings to create better opportunities of development; and a new generation of Mexican state of welfare expectations. By his national representative, a third objective of MxFLS is to contribute to the evaluation of National-coverage social programs and their impact, such as with Oportunidades (Opportunities, formally PROGRESA), whose objective is to generate better welfare expectations and opportunities to a new generation of Mexicans in poverty conditions. MxFLS is also an ideal vehicle to carry out evaluations on the recently created Programa de Seguro Popular (Popular Insurance Program), being that MxFLS-1 can be used as a base-line for the evaluation of the Program. The long-term longitudinal design of MxFLS offers the possibility to study the impact of medium and long-term social programs on a wide range of welfare indicators. In this way, MxFLS data looks to compliment the evaluation input on social politics.   


Public Domain

MxFLS data is public domain; a source of information with unrestricted access to policy makers, the academic community and the general public.  Support from the Ford Foundation on MxFLS disclosure operations has been fundamental for data publication, the development of Users’ documents, and in providing a permanent consulting scheme to the general public regarding survey operations. MxFLS data and documents can be downloaded freely from the internet at no cost to the user, with a prior standard registration procedure.

We request that users refer to the following documents as bibliography references while using the MxFLS-1 and MxFLS-2 database:

  • Rubalcava, Luis and Teruel, Graciela (2006). “User’s Guide for the Mexican Family Life Survey First Wave”
  • Rubalcava, Luis and Teruel, Graciela (2008). “User’s Guide for the Mexican Family Life Survey Second Wave”.



The design, planning and execution of MxFLS-1 and MxFLS-2 have been managed by Principal Project Researchers: Graciela Teruel (UIA), Luis Rubalcava (CIDE, Spectron Desarrollo S.C.), Duncan Thomas (Duke) and Elizabeth Frankenberg (Duke).

The Project has benefited from the active participation of researchers form the Universidad Iberoamericana, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas,  Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública, University of California-Los Angeles, Duke University,  University of South Carolina, and Northwestern University.

The MxFLS team would like to extend their gratitude to DHL México and to the Grupo Financiero Banamex for their vision of Social Responsible Companies. We thank DHL México for logistically supporting the health operative during the second-wave of the survey.



Surveys MxFLS-1 and -2 provide detailed information on the individual, household and community levels:

Household and Individual Information

  • Expenditure and consumer models, decisions regarding savings, family owned assets and wealth, as well as information about total and transfer mechanisms of resources between non-resident family members.    
  • Information regarding the impact of social programs in the community, as well as at the household and individual levels.
  • Levels of education and school attendance decisions and permanent schooling for all household members, including information on school performance, grade repetition, as well as the highest level of education attained by parents and siblings who do not reside within the household, regardless of weather or not they are deceased.
  • Type of employment, participation and mobility within the workforce of all household members who are over the age of 5, along with retrospective information about the individual’s employment activities in a formal and informal sector during the past two years, as well as general information about his/her first job.
  • Time allocation information on an individual level concerning household activities, child education, recreational and leisure time in general.
  • Measurement and interpretation of health status: self-perception and expectations of the individuals’ own health status, everyday habits relating to the care or negligence of individual health (sports, alcohol drinking, tobacco, etc.);  functional indicators for elderly adults; tendencies and reports of chronic illnesses; anthropometric measures (weight and size) relating to nutritional and overweight problems; and samples of biological indicators such as blood pressure and hemoglobin levels that are found to be related to arterial hypertension and anemia complications, respectively.  MxFLS 1 and 2 includes information on the demand and use of health services, public as well as private, and self-medication.
  • Retrospective information on reproductive health, pregnancy history, births and abortions pertaining to women of fertile age within the household (ages 14-45); the practice and use of contraceptives and information about the use of health services during pregnancy, during labor and postnatal services.
  • Crime and victimization information on a household and an individual level – theft, assault, burglary and kidnapping – and their relation on individual welfare; as well as individual conduct modifications that function on levels of perception pertaining to community safety, such as a change of residence, investments in modes of security, general modifications of everyday habits.  
  • Information on the use of, and managing of agricultural lands and family businesses.
  • Individual, historical information on marriage, domestic partnership and migration (permanent and “rotating”) of adult women and men who comprise the household.

The second wave of MxFLS also includes a module to measure risk preferences, inter-temporary and altruistic preferences; a module about individual expectations, and information on paternity and daycare centers. There are also additional biomarkers such as: total levels of cholesterol and a total count of glucose levels while fasting.

Community Information
Similar to the fieldwork conducted on households, MxFLS-1 carried out a community operative with the purpose of collecting quantitative and qualitative data on schools, health centers and small health care providers; on social programs, and economic and physical infrastructures; and information on the level of local prices by means of visiting medical dispensaries, pharmacies, markets, flea markets, miscellaneous and/or supermarkets within the community.

The community information includes data on establishments belonging to the communities where the household interviews took place, as well as information on establishments situated outside of the residential community, if they were so indicated by a household member.

MxFLS-2 collected data on community prices and community infrastructure.

On successive waves, the longitudinal design of MxFLS will allow visits to commercial establishments, schools, small health care providers and health centers who were surveyed during the original base-line; and will furthermore include information on new providers, with a goal of creating a contributing analysis on the impact of change in community infrastructure regarding population welfare.

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