Mexico’s 2015 Intercensal Survey
In 2016, the Mexican government agency, Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática (INEGI), published the 2015 Intercensal Survey, which upgraded Mexico’s socio-demographic information to the midpoint between the 2010 census and the census to be carried out in 2020. With a sample size of over 6 million homes, this survey provides information on the national, state and municipio level, as of March 15th, 2015.
Indigenous Self-Identity in the Mexican Census
From 1895 to 1990, the Mexican census asked Mexican citizens if they spoke an indigenous language. Only the 1921 census used racial categories. However, in recent years, INEGI has begun to recognize “Autoadscripción étnica” (ethnic self-identification) which gives citizens the right to “self-identification based on their own culture, traditions and history,” even if they do not speak an indigenous language.
In 2000, INEGI first began using indigenous self-identification in the census. But, in 2010, it was used in a more careful and measured manner. Suddenly, many people proud of their indigenous origins and cultural practices responded to the question of indigenous identity in a positive manner. As a result, the number of indigenous people in Mexico jumped from 15.7 million people 3 years of age and more (14.9%) in 2010 to 25.7 million (21.5%) five years later. But some analysts believe the 2015 figures may be over-estimates. Ultimately, the results of the 2020 census will probably clarify this when compared with the 2010 and 2015 census results.
Considered Indigenous Classification
One of the 2015 survey questions asked, “De acuerdo, con su cultura, se considera indígena?” Essentially, Mexican residents were being asked if they considered themselves indigenous through their culture. Survey respondents had four possible responses:
- Sí (Yes)
- Sí, en parte (Yes, in part)
- No sabe (Do not know)
Based on the responses to this question, eight Mexican states in 2015 had populations that considered one-third or more of their people to be of indigenous descent, as noted below:
1. Oaxaca (65.7% indigenous population)
2. Yucatán (65.4%)
3. Campeche (44.5%)
4. Quintana Roo (44.4%)
5. Hidalgo (36.2%)
6. Chiapas (36.1%)
7. Puebla (35.3%)
8. Guerrero (33.9%)
The Indigenous-Speaking Population
The 2015 census count told a different story with regards to the population of persons 3 years of age and older who spoke somen Indigenous languages. While 21.5 percent of Mexican residents recognized that their culture, traditions and physical appearance have been inherited from indigenous ancestors, a much smaller percent of people actually spoke an indigenous language: 6.5%.
Another question in the 2015 survey asked each participant if they spoke an indigenous dialect or language. Only persons 3 years of age and older were considered for this category.
Linguistic and Ethnic Identity in 2015
The following table contains 2015 Intercensal Survey data relating to populations that speak indigenous languages or identity themselves to be of Indigenous or Afromexican descent. The table has been sorted by indigenous identity (the first row):
INEGI. Principales resultados de la Encuesta Intercensal 2015. Estado Unidos Mexicanos.
INEGI. Principales resultados de la Encuesta Intercensal 2015. Estado Unidos Mexicanos: III: Etnicidad. Online:
INEGI, Encuesta Intercensal 2015: Cuestionario para viviendas particulares habitadas y población. Online: http://www.beta.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/proyectos/enchogares/especiales/intercensal/2015/doc/eic2015_cuestionario.pdf