It was reported today that during Calderón’s sexenio, the number of “ninis” in Mexico – that is, young people who neither work nor attend school – increased from 4.5 million in 2007 to 5.1 million in 2011. While Calderón’s military strategies in the drug war have certainly been a black mark on his presidency, his failure to implement effective social development programs has done far more damage to the country’s future. The Ninis are often drafted into criminal organizations, and serve as cannon fodder in the drug war; they are Mexico’s equivalent to the unemployed and underemployed young males often recruited by radical organizations in the Middle East. While I suspect that the violence of the past several years is beginning to subside and will continue to do so, the Ninis represent a longer term problem in Mexican society and one that will require more creative policies than Peña Nieto is likely to offer.

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