Mexico Projects & Research

map of states of Mexico with Sonora, Campeche, Baja California, and Chiapas in color

The Growth Lab has conducted research across Mexico, on the national and subnational level. 


Place-specific determinants of income gaps: New sub-national evidence from Mexico

Place-specific determinants of income gaps: New sub-national evidence from Mexico
Hausmann, R., Pietrobelli, C. & Santos, M.A., 2021. Place-specific determinants of income gaps: New sub-national evidence from Mexico. Journal of Business Research. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The literature on wage gaps between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico revolves around individual factors, such as education and ethnicity. Yet, twenty years after the Zapatista rebellion, the schooling gap has shrunk while the wage gap has widened, and we find no evidence indicating that Chiapas indigenes are worse-off than their likes elsewhere in Mexico. We explore a different hypothesis and argue that place-specific characteristics condition the choices and behaviors of individuals living in Chiapas and explain persisting income gaps. Most importantly, they limit the necessary investments at the firm level in dynamic capabilities. Based on census data, we calculate the economic complexity index, a measure of the knowledge agglomeration embedded in the economic activities at the municipal level. Economic complexity explains a larger fraction of the wage gap than any individual factor. Our results suggest that the problem is Chiapas, and not Chiapanecos.
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Globalization and Protectionism: AMLO’s 2006 Presidential Run

Bustos, S. & Morales, J.R., 2019. Globalization and Protectionism: AMLO’s 2006 Presidential Run.Abstract
We study the effects of local tariff drops for Mexican exports to the US on the local electoral performance of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) in Mexico’s 2006 presidential election. In an effort to appeal to his rural base, AMLO proposed to unilaterally retain tariff exemptions on imported corn and beans, which were scheduled to drop under NAFTA by the end of 2008. This elevated protectionism in the public agenda during the campaign. We find that local economic gains due to export tariff drops under NAFTA between 1994 and 2001 led to a drop in AMLO’s local vote share gains in 2006. These effects are contingent to the 2006 election, as similar effects on local vote for the left are not found in previous or later elections. Results are robust to controls for local grain growing and Chinese competition. We predict that AMLO would have been elected in 2006 had protectionism not been a salient electoral issue. Our findings suggest export access gains due to globalization undermine local political preferences over national protectionist platforms.
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The Impact of the Mexican Drug War on Trade

Gorrín, J., A., J.R.M. & Ricca, B., 2019. The Impact of the Mexican Drug War on Trade.Abstract
This paper studies the unintended economic consequences of increases in violence following the Mexican Drug War. We study the effects on exports in municipalities with different levels of exposure to violence after the policy. A focus on exports allows us to control for demand shocks by comparing exports of the same product to the same country of destination. Building on the close elections identification strategy proposed by Dell (2015), we show that municipalities that are exogenously exposed to the Drug War experience a 40% decrease in export growth on the in- tensive margin. Large exporters suffer larger effects, along with exports of more complex, capital intensive, and skill intensive products. Finally, using firm level data, we provide evidence consistent with violence increasing marginal exporting costs.
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Tabasco: Diagnóstico de Crecimiento

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Diagnóstico de Crecimiento.Abstract

Since 2003, the GDP per capita of Tabasco has consistently figured among the 4 largest in the country. However, this level of economic activity has not translated into an equally favorable performance in other social welfare metrics. According to CONEVAL, the Tabasco poverty rate in 2016 was 50.9%, seven percentage points higher than the national rate (43.6%). On the other hand, the average monthly income of the workers of the state is in the 40th percentile of all the states.

This discrepancy can be explained because the mining activity, despite accumulating only 3% of jobs, represents more than 50% of the state's GDP. If we only consider non-oil GDP, we have that the GDP per capita of the state has tended to be located around the country's median, and for 2016 it was in the 30th percentile nationwide.

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Tabasco: Reporte de Complejidad Ecónomica

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Reporte de Complejidad Ecónomica.Abstract

Este estudio busca identificar las capacidades productivas de Tabasco a partir de un análisis de la composición de sus exportaciones y su empleo basándose en la perspectiva de la complejidad económica. Asimismo, busca identificar productos potenciales que requieran una base de conocimientos productivos similar a la que ya tiene Tabasco y que le permita mejorar su complejidad económica actual y prospectiva.

Para tales efectos, primero se explora la evolución en el tiempo del valor de las exportaciones de Tabasco y la composición de las mismas, así como de los principales productos de exportación. En sentido, se tiene que las exportaciones de Tabasco están determinadas por el sector petrolero. Los envíos de petróleo representan alrededor del 97% de las exportaciones estatales y explican más del 90% del aumento de las exportaciones de la última década.

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Tabasco: Diagnóstico Industrial

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Diagnóstico Industrial.Abstract

En este estudio se consideraron los productos priorizados en el Reporte de Complejidad Económica de Tabasco y se procedió a evaluar su potencial a partir de un conjunto de consideraciones de mercado. Luego, se agregó el potencial de cada producto en distintas colecciones de producto, y se seleccionó una industria cuya estimulación y desarrollo constituya una apuesta de desarrollo prometedora el estado. Respecto de éste se detallaron algunas estadísticas generales como una forma de evaluar su potencial de crecimiento e impacto para la economía local, estatal y nacional.

Para el objeto de este estudio, el sector industrial escogido para el análisis de cuellos de botella fue el de “Químicos” y, más puntualmente, los productos: “Agentes de limpieza orgánicos (ex. Jabón)”, “Aprestos y aceleradores de tintura”, “Mezclas de sustancias odoríferas”, “Placas fotográficas” y “Tinta”. El desarrollo de esta colección de productos representa una importante oportunidad, la que, a la fecha, los productores mexicanos no han podido aprovechar del todo. Sin embargo, estos productos han presentado un gran dinamismo dentro de México en los años recientes. Entre 2004 y 2014, las exportaciones de México en estos productos se han duplicado, el empleo en los sectores asociados a estos productos ha aumentado un 20%, y el salario promedio en estos sectores ha aumentado entre 40% y 50%.

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Tabasco: Insumos para el desarrollo de recomendaciónes

Barrios, D., et al., 2018. Tabasco: Insumos para el desarrollo de recomendaciónes.Abstract
En este documento se presentaron una serie de insumos para el desarrollo de políticas para Tabasco, que apuntan a la estructuración de una estrategia de transformación productiva que le permita al estado revertir la tendencia adversa de los últimos años y promover una senda de crecimiento sostenido. Asimismo, este documento buscó consolidar los principales hallazgos de las investigaciones que hicieron parte del proyecto “Diseño de estrategias de transformación productiva para Tabasco.
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growth lab team members at table with locals in Chiapas, Mexico A collaboration (2014-2015) with the Mexican Ministry of Finance to examine the underlying causes of poverty in Mexico's poorest state. Our team of scholars and research fellows generated six reports including Complexity Report, Growth Diagnostic, Poverty Profile, and Policy Recommendations. Learn more


city scene in tabasco mexico Research to diagnose the challenges and obstacles confronting Baja California, Campeche and Tabasco in terms of growth and productivity, and identify the development strategy that would allow expansion or strengthening of their industries through transitioning to activities with greater complexity or added value. Learn more


Mexico Atlas - Washing Machines Exports Launched in 2015, the Mexico Atlas was a diagnostic tool used to visualize economic patterns and geographical distribution of productivity and employment, assess the productive ecosystems of states and municipalities, and identify potential opportunities for diversification. Learn more


Ford logoThere is a Future after Cars: Economic Growth Analysis for Hermosillo

In 2015, Hermosillo was in the top 5% of wealthiest municipalities, with poverty levels and informal employment rates significantly lower than in the rest of the country. But the economy of this city in Sonora State has clearly lost its dynamism over the past few years. What happened in Hermosillo? Can the current economic structure sustain the municipality’s high wages and guarantee future growth? What policy interventions are needed?