NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Why Isn't Mexico Rich?

Gordon H. Hanson

NBER Working Paper No. 16470
Issued in October 2010
NBER Program(s):   ITI

Over the last three decades, Mexico has aggressively reformed its economy, opening to foreign trade and investment, achieving fiscal discipline, and privatizing state owned enterprises. Despite these efforts, the country’s economic growth has been lackluster, trailing that of many other developing nations. In this paper, I review arguments for why Mexico hasn’t sustained higher rates of economic growth. The most prominent suggest that some combination of poorly functioning credit markets, distortions in the supply of non-traded inputs, and perverse incentives for informality creates a drag on productivity growth. These are factors internal to Mexico. One possible external factor is that the country has the bad luck of exporting goods that China sells, rather than goods that China buys. I assess evidence from recent literature on these arguments and suggest directions for future research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16470

Published: Gordon H. Hanson, 2010. "Why Isn't Mexico Rich?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 987-1004, December. citation courtesy of

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