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AGEBs and Manzanas in Mexico demographic data

Introduction to AGEB and Manzana Data

As you explore Mexico demographics and Mexico GIS data in more depth, you’re going to see some unfamiliar names pop up.  You may be accustomed to the U.S. model of Census demographic areas: the tract, the block group, and the block, among others.  While these don’t directly translate to Mexico Census demographic geography, they’re a starting point.  What we’ll look at here are the Mexican micro-geographies, AGEB and Manzana.  These are the two smallest levels of geography at which Mexico’s Census tabulates demographic data, and they’re the levels that matter most to demographics analysts in the business world.


AGEBs and Mexico Demographic Data

Let’s look at the larger of the two geographies, the AGEB.  The word AGEB is an acronym, standing for Area Geo-Estadistica Basica: In other words, the basic geo-statistical area.  If you’re familiar with the U.S. Census, the closest parallel is a Block Group (not, as some claim, a Census Tract).  The average population in a Mexican urban AGEB is just over 1500 individuals, which is a close comparison to the average U.S. Block Group’s 1400 individuals.


AGEB, a Mexican census demographic unit for GIS data
An example of AGEB boundaries

When comparing a U.S. Census Block Group to a Mexico Census AGEB, there’s one crucial difference that I can’t stress highly enough.  While U.S. Census Block Groups have total territorial coverage, and every acre of land in America belongs to one, the same is not true of AGEBs.  INEGI, the custodian of Mexico’s Census and geographic data, defines rural AGEBs differently from urban AGEBs; they even have a different structure for their unique identifiers.  Overall, for business users, this is far from a bad thing; in fact, it’s very convenient.  Mexico’s definition of a rural area is very conservative; even small farming villages are most often defined as “Urban” by the Mexican Census.


Manzanas and Mexico Demographic Data

In Mexico’s geodemographic hierarchy, the manzana falls right below the AGEB.  Actually, AGEBs are made up of a collection of manzanas.  (It’s worth mentioning that the word “manzana” has two meanings in Spanish; it’s both an apple, and a city block.  Maybe that means a Mexican gave New York City the moniker of “The Big Apple”?)   The manzana is generally equivalent to a U.S. Census Block; while a U.S. Block houses about 50 people on average, a Mexican block averages 60 individuals.


Manzana GIS units for demographic data research
An example of Manzana boundaries

Although AGEBs are collections of manzanas, the geography looks quite a bit different.  AGEBs are contiguous: neighboring AGEBs actually touch each other and share borders.  Meanwhile, manzanas are not contiguous.  By definition, manzanas are delineated as areas inside borders made up of streets, highways, pathways, and other naturally boundaries.  So, a manzana truly is a city block.  This is an important thing to know if you’re planning to do complex spatial operations on Mexico demographic data at the manzana level.


It’s worth mentioning that the manzana is the smallest level of Mexican demographics aggregation available to the general public.  You’ll have to be a research scientist with excellent credentials to get to the real microdata (household- and individual-level short form data).  Even then, the utility of the data is questionable, given the significant privacy protection provisions built into INEGI’s analysis programs.


Takeaways on Mexico GIS Data: AGEBs, and Manzanas

Now that you understand the AGEB and the manzana, we hope you have a good understanding of how they can empower your research to look at micro-areas.  The AGEB and manzana allow you to define and measure your markets and demographics with surgical precision.  If it doesn’t sound like a big deal now, just wait till you place a second location in a given municipality – how would you even begin to define each location’s demographics?


We’re the only data provider on the market that is building updated Mexico demographics datasets for GIS at these micro-levels.  Frankly, we do it because it’s more fun to work with lots of data.  With 56,000 urban AGEBs and 1.4 million manzanas, there’s enough micro-level data to guide smart business decisions in Mexico.  Spend some time with us to learn how the AGEB and manzana can fit into your Mexico business strategy.


We’re also proud to be the only data provider offering income data and expenditures estimates at these microscopic geographies.  Using proprietary multi-source techniques, our data can help qualify AGEBs and Manzanas based on socioeconomic levels, and provide a quantitative basis for evaluating new markets based on household financial status.  You’ve got to see how cool this new dataset is, so get in touch with us to learn more.