Volume 45 Number 177,
April-June 2014
Journey to Development in Yucatan
Esther Iglesias*
Date received: September 23, 2013. Date accepted: December 4, 2013

This topic should be viewed in the context of a few theoretical considerations on local and territorial development. This work will then look at the conclusions of some recent specialized contributions to the study of instability and disparities in Mexico and apply these to the focus of this paper. Studying Yucatan sheds light on the enormous limits and extreme inequalities of development in Mexico and its winding road to growth. Yucatan reflects how Mexico is lagging in employment and education, as well as the extent to which people are leaving rural areas, leading to greater urban concentration. In addition, it provides evidence of an increase in outsourcing, the decline of the maquiladora industry and the departure of local capital from its weak manufacturing sector. This work concludes with a broad critique of this type of development.

Keywords: Mexico, Yucatan, socioeconomics inequalities, regional studies, foreign direct investment.

This article consists of two parts. Part A is dedicated to situating the area of study, the state of Yucatan, in the development process, and is focused on describing the territory. It is a lagging region and a space full of contrasts. Finally, this first part sets forth the changes, imbalances and disparities that have defined this region over the past two decades.

Part B provides a more precise account of the relationships that exist in Yucatan between human capital and economic growth, as well as the effects and consequences of foreign direct investment (fdi) in this area. It gives a detailed analysis of the territory’s changing productive structure, including deagriculturalization, focusing on industrialization, especially in the manufacturing sector, and finishing with some of the consequences of the rapid increase in outsourcing.

Finally, this work provides some further considerations based on the structural differences present in the territory.



Economic globalization debuted in Mexico in the penultimate decade of the twentieth century (gatt, 1986). In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) was signed between Mexico and its two neighbors to the north. In the years since, global economic activities have gradually shifted from the national stage to the global, regional and local levels. The "national State" has shrunk, resulting in deterritorialization that has broken up state power (Sojo, 2004: 140). All of this has taken place on both the economic and political levels:

From that moment forward, the economic decisions of many states would be subject to the public scrutiny of international financial bodies, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and to transnational capital, which, thanks to new information technologies, has made its mark through international financial markets (Iglesias and Muñoz Cota, 2010: 200-201).

We are currently in the midst of economic globalization, which has allowed development to thrive in some areas thanks to growing socioeconomic inequalities and imbalances. Insofar as these inequalities become serious issues for these countries, such as China, for example, there is a growing need to resolve them and one way to do so is the delocalization of companies and qualified personnel. However, countries that experience this delocalization, such as Mexico, see that development is therefore accompanied by deterritorialization and weakening of the State.

It has been said, and not without good reason, that development is the social utopia par excellence. Undoubtedly, the concept of development encompasses a multitude of meanings that make the word polysemic (Boisier, 2001: 55). Even so, in all regional development there exists a process of structural change that takes place in a territorial space, which we more concretely refer to as a region, and which is always undergoing changes at both the community and individual levels.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd) dedicated a study to the state of Yucatan in 2008, reporting that this state is one of the most backwards regions, but that in recent years, it has shown dynamism and rapid growth, which classify it as being in a process of regional convergence.

The organization’s work reveals broadly positive results with respect to the circular migration that Yucatan maintains following the post-henequen stage. Its conclusions are risky, though, because they claim that the state has had success in overcoming the obstacles that migrants from rural areas face in joining the urban workforce, both in the capital city of the state, Merida, as well as in other centers of tourism, like the Mayan Riviera.

However, we must keep in mind that the city has always been characterized as a nodal point for the economic and productive systems and for the reorganization of the institutional system. Its cities have always played a strategic role in economic development throughout history. Currently, urbanization has sped up, and more and more, the city represents a space with different development processes that demand sustainable urbanization and urban policies that integrate the city with its adjacent regions. In Merida, this has been reinforced with the existence of maquiladoras. Even so, as development and growth advance, it will be necessary for these institutions to undergo changes.1 Certain economic bodies, like companies or other social and educational groups, conceal the possibility of interacting with society, as North indicates. Companies and organizations develop intense activities with one another, and from there make the decisions that lead to investments and agreements. During these exchanges, there are complex processes of economic growth that take on unique characteristics depending on the environment in which they are immersed. Parallel to these institutions, there are also processes taking place inherent to the so-called informal institutions that grow spontaneously in certain historical moments in all societies.

Migrating to the capital from state and other intermediary cities, or towards the tourism poles of the peninsula, and even beyond the border to some cities in the United States,2 has not necessarily implied something more than survival, or in any event, mere reproduction of forms and the multiplication of inequality in economic and social growth.

What should this economic growth contain so that we can measure improvements in the region? The answer, according to some experts like Antonio Vázquez Barquero, is certain relevant socioeconomic advances, which imply:

A process of economic growth and structural change that leads to an improvement in the standard of living for the local population, in which three dimensions can be found: an economic dimension, where local enterprises use their capacity to organize local productive factors with high-enough productivity levels so as to be competitive in the market. Another is a sociocultural factor, in which values and institutions serve as the basis of development. And, finally, an administrative political dimension in which territorial policies allow for the creation of a favorable local economic environment, protecting it from external interference and driving local development (Vázquez Barquero, 1988: 129).

Unfortunately, the state of Yucatan has not shown any structural change that would lead to improvements in the standard of living for the majority of the population. In appearance, there have been specific multiplicative effects in employment related to tourism, but this is rather reflected more in the state of Quintana Roo. Yes, there is certain dynamism evident in the capital, but it is the reflection of the overly fast growth of informality. Also, local entrepreneurs have not used their capacity to organize local productive factors for the good of greater competitiveness; many of them change the focus of their companies or abandon the companies they have founded and which enjoyed a long tradition in local development. Local institutions in Yucatan have not spearheaded the development process; rather, they have served as operators for certain centralized planning from the federal government. In any case, and to continue with the reflections described above, Yucatan has not created significant territorial policies so as to generate a local economic environment and protect it from external interference. This state is a reservoir of abundant labor, willing to receive low salaries, and potentially, willing to migrate, if necessary, to nearby territories.

We might think that the so-called regional convergence that the oecd alludes to, in which disparities or imbalances, which in this conceptualization should be situational, would govern with difficulty in current Yucatan. However, rapid growth and dynamism are only manifestations of outsourcing and/or very low salaries — which do not necessarily help the development process — and do not represent the result of territorial policies that would create a more favorable local economic environment.


As a state in Mexico, Yucatan accounts for 1,955,577 people, representing merely 1.8% of the national population and slightly under 1.5% of the gross domestic product (gdp).

Fluctuations on either side of this figure have shown little variation in the last decade, as shown in Table 1.

The state is located in the southeast of Mexico, with 39,612 km2 of territory and ample coastline, some of which has been developed for tourism and other areas of which are used for the fishing industries.

The state of Yucatan continues to be a lagging region in which, as already indicated earlier in this work, low salaries hide what the oecd labels as a region with dynamic and rapid growth. Yucatan is full of contrasts, but what is most important here is that it is falling behind (ranked 18 out of the 32 Mexican states in terms of income) (oecd, 2008: 34). Are there some signs reflecting change? Yes, there has been a certain boom in the construction industry. Migrant workers from rural regions have been coming for many years and are willing to accept, according to the oecd, incomes lower than two minimum wages.3 One-third of the municipalities in Yucatan show high or very high levels of marginalization (conapo, 2010).

The backwardness of Yucatan is also evident in the illiteracy rate, which, although has fallen for the region (between 2000 and 2010, it went from 12.3 percent to 9.3 percent),4 still holds an unfortunately significant place in the country, ranked eighth.


The state’s strategic location in the region has been a catalyst to imagine, create and squander policy projects and development plans, which have mainly remained unfinished and/or incomplete. Yucatan is also an example of a territory in which the social infrastructure cannot hide socioeconomic disparities. As a Federal Republic, the Mexican government centralizes certain resources for the federation and later sends them as subsidies to all of its states, aiming to support the various investments planned in each state. It is important to note that Yucatan is one of the most significant receivers of subsidies to mitigate its poverty. Unfortunately, this aid has only served to reduce situational problems, and very few funds have been allocated to develop labor training programs.

Unlike what is taking place in other Mexican regions, technical specialization in Yucatan barely reaches a minimum degree of development.


In recent decades, the face of Yucatan has changed. The population has migrated from rural areas to certain urban centers, including Valladolid, Merida, the capital city and the Mayan Riviera. It is important to note that from the perspective of spatial growth, Merida has significant disparities. Feedback effects are concentrated there, which limits the multiplicative effects of success in the capital for nearby territories (every 1000 jobs in the state capital produce less than 60 opportunities in the municipalities) (oecd, 2008: 104).

Currently, the majority of critical thought has thrown into doubt the idea that economic growth should come at any price, and with good reason. It is time to rethink the social context of human needs and seek new paths for other modes of development (Boyer, 2012).

Globalization is a process linked to territories, because both economic production and dynamics depend on the location of economic actors and the factors that make each territory attractive (Vázquez Barquero, 2001: 79). Also, insofar as globalization is a new paradigm that came into being in the 1990s, it may have brought the formation of a new global system, but it leads to asymmetrical economic development. In this way, the old central-peripheral country paradigm has been overcome, and now, developed or lagging regions are engaged in dispute with each other for incorporation into the global system.

Yucatan, similar to any other region on the planet, has sought to consolidate its modernity by promoting development through globalization. Let us remember that because the state exported the henequen agave plant for more than a century of single crop farming, and also due to its geographic proximity to Florida coastlines, Yucatan has been a part of the global market since the end of the nineteenth century. However, as is logical, exporting a single product to a single country has not given the state the necessary experience to understand the steps it must take to join the global system.

The state of Yucatan is a prime example of socioeconomic imbalances and disparities in Mexico, which were exacerbated following the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement5 (nafta-1994). Similar to other regions in the country, the state’s main foreign trading partner is the United States. Unfortunately, in Yucatan, exports have fallen since 2002.

To measure the disparity between Mexican regions, we will reflect upon a work that encompasses the time period from 1993 to 2006. Sigma convergence analysis reveals: “divergent evolution with a slight turn towards convergence since 2000, although without reducing the degree of dispersion reached in 1993" (Rodil and López, 2011: 83).

Like any other territory in the country, Yucatan exists in the midst of unequal territorial dynamics. According to this work, it is one of the so-called potentially losing and stagnated states, which are a majority. By contrast, Mexico has potentially winning states, which are mainly found among the border states.6



The final phase of moving away towards single crop farming of henequen in Yucatan coincides with the most important inflows of foreign direct investment (fdi), and with the growth of employment in maquiladoras in Yucatan. Let us keep in mind that at the beginning of the 1990s, and throughout this decade, growth was slow but stable for this incipient export industry. As quickly as fdi arrived and became installed in maquiladora factories in Yucatan, when benefits were no longer favorable, it was withdrawn without leaving any mark on regional development.

Some recent works have shown that 2001 was a turning point in the course of economic development in Mexico. Starting in that year, the majority of regional entities in Mexico began to produce high concentration in the tertiary sector. This becomes clear when analyzing the product per worker. It is possible that “[…] this sector concentrates the majority of economic activities dedicated to informal labor, which is an additional consequence of the unemployment crisis. When people are unable to find a formal job, they set up their own businesses and subcontract themselves for some activity different from their former employment" (García Almada, 2011). Something similar may have taken place in Yucatan after the state became strong in the clothing manufacturing industry. Some of the unemployed labor force became dedicated to alternative activities, while others opened sewing workshops and subcontracted their labor.



The past decade has brought a decrease in primary activities on the national level. This is also true of Yucatan (see Table 2).

Yucatan was formerly a state in which primary activities and activities related to the industrial transformation of the henequen fiber played an overwhelming role in its economic activity7 (let us not forget that under Porfirio, at some point, the so-called "green gold" — Agave Fourcroydes Lem — accounted for the top spot in terms of inflow of currency into Mexico), but now, this sector barely accounts for 4 percent, including fishing.

The agriculture and livestock sector in the state of Yucatan essentially encompasses fruit and vegetable crops, with a few henequen crops, as well as cows and pigs and fish production. However, this last sub-sector has shown significant decreases since the end of the last century. This territory is also an important producer of bee honey.

The number of people involved in the primary sector in Yucatan is minimal. The consequences of this loss in employment have shown up in different ways in the social realm (enoe, 2009). The decline of the agriculture and livestock sector has also been the result of a lack of infrastructure and insufficient coordination between production and sales.

From 2008-2011, federal public investment for so-called productive and social infrastructure grew rapidly, once again to the detriment of rural development and environmental protection.

On the other hand, we must keep in mind that Yucatan has received significant amounts of remittances over the past twenty years. Starting in the 1980s, migrants arrived in California, later spreading to other states in the United States. Because migrants become set up quickly in their destinations, remittances, which have not grown much in recent years, have been arriving in Yucatan continuously to ensure the survival of the families migrants left behind8 (Iglesias, 2011), until the brutal drop in the employment rate in the United States.


Recent Fluctuations in the Principal Economic Sectors of Yucatan

Looking at the gdp of Yucatan in terms of its sectors of economic activity, it is apparent that manufacturing industries have been displaced by the commercial sector, which has been on an upswing since 2003. Migration from various places in Mexico to Merida, Yucatan has grown in recent years, impacting the growth of real-estate and other related sectors, such as construction, which currently accounts for between 14 and 8 percent, respectively, of the total in this productive structure.

Comparing national statistics to those of Yucatan over the past decade, we find similar behavior for both in terms of the percentage structure of primary, secondary and tertiary activities (see Table 2).

The manufacturing industry has suffered important losses, despite the fact that the food sub-sector still holds a relevant place in this activity, accounting for more than 60 percent. This manufacturing branch, which arose at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, mainly with local capital, has undergone important company changes in recent decades.9 Also, textiles and clothing items, together with other leather products, have seen important decreases in these past 15 years (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. gdp of the Manufacturing Industry in Yucatan
by Sub-Sector of Activity, 2003-2010

Preliminary figures starting in 2009.
Source: Based on information from inegi, National Accounts System of Mexico.

Competitiveness and the Labor Market

The competitiveness that affects the manufacturing industry in Mexico is also broadly reflected in the territory of Yucatan.

The clothing manufacturing industry, which flourished the most among the maquiladora industries in Yucatan, has since lost its strength, similar to nearly 50 percent of the maquiladora establishments, from 2006 to present day. The period of the maquiladora boom, which was the only significant source of fdi in the region and was originally conceived of in the 1990s as a way to drive regional growth, has finally hit bottom.

Some maquiladoras went from being simple assembly lines to implementing incipient vertical integration to complement the entire clothing production process. The precarious conditions of the labor market in Mexico are reflected under a magnifying glass in Yucatan, the archetype of the precarious job market.

The unemployment rate10 in Mexico, together with a significant increase in subcontracting, has increased since 2007. Keeping in mind that employment and unemployment rates do not include some indicators, which leads to errors in calculation, explains why the inegi has restructured its concept and created the so-called rate of labor informality. This represents the percentage of the employed population with an informal job, including independent workers or employees of other economic units, but on the margins of the laws that should protect them in these positions. Unfortunately, the rate of labor informality in Yucatan grew disproportionately faster than the national average between 2005 and 2012.

In another area, let us remember that to some extent, the extremely poor salaries “conceal” the total number of jobs, especially in the secondary sector, where employment has increased. However, it cannot be hidden that 50 percent of salaries in the formal economy only reach the equivalent of two minimum wages (a little more than nine dollars a day).11 Alongside this issue, 70 percent of the working population in Yucatan receives low and very low income, while only 22 percent receive medium and medium-high salaries. The other 8 percent do not receive an income (National Occupation and Employment Survey, enoe, 2007). To that, we add that currently, over 60 percent of economic activity takes place in labor informality (enoe, 2013).

Since 2010, according to inegi, outsourcing in manufacturing establishments has grown without interruption (see Figure 2), accompanied by a decrease in hiring of personnel. However, although it is true that this trend follows the national trend, the percentage of outsourced personnel in Yucatan manufacturing (1,649 people) is much lower, barely 8.46 percent, than the national figure, which reaches a total 474,807 people (inegi, 2012).

A decade after its boom, the effects of competition have left the Yucatan clothing industry weak as compared to China in the international market. In Yucatan, the most evident consequences appear in the labor market. “[…] One of the outcomes of the crises from 2001 to 2006 was the closure of 54 maquiladora establishments and the loss of approximately 5,000 direct jobs" (Castilla Ramos and Torres Góngora, 2010: 55).

Another consequence of the closure of the vast majority of maquiladoras, such as clothing maquiladoras, was the rise of small clothing manufacturing workshops created by some of the former workers fired from the maquiladora industry. These workshops are now subcontractors for some of the maquiladora companies that still exist in Yucatan: one example of these workshops is in the town Kimbilá.

Thus arises the issue of outsourced labor, which can be expensive in some stages of economic localization. However, a small amount of unemployed labor in Yucatan can absorb the outsourcing requirements.

Figure 2. Hired and Outsourced Personnel in Manufacturing Establishments in Yucatan, 2007-2012a

aAnnual figures for the month of December; bFigures from 2012 taken from May.
Source: Prepared by the author using information from inegi, the Bank of Economic Information.
Comprehensive Statistics from the Manufacturing, Maquiladora Industry and Export Services Program (immex).


Yucatan and the Expansion of Outsourcing

Similar to the national scale, where tertiary activities have accounted for nearly 70 percent of Mexican gdp, outsourcing has seen disproportionate growth in Yucatan (73 percent).

The city of Merida, an urban conglomerate, is an archetypal example of this increase in outsourcing. The capital city receives from its surroundings Campeche and Quintana Roo, and in this way generates a certain number of new jobs in the tourism services sector.

From an institutional perspective, public state administration has undergone reforms apparently meant to promote development in the medium term. The administration that ended last year, however, did not present significant proposals to foster growth or address the need to create jobs. Nor were there significant levels of fdi.

The Public Treasury of Yucatan depends largely on federal subsidies and has failed to develop fiscal autonomy. This is not reason in and of itself, but it is important to take into account as an obstacle for planning endogenous territorial development.

The state is also lagging in its administration and provision of services. The low training that civil servants in state municipalities receive is a constant weakness that works against any attempt to implement budgets and local planning.

The oecd work, which provides a rather favorable and generous perspective of some of the potential advantages in Yucatan, insists that one of the greatest challenges to further growth in the state is the lack of vertical and horizontal cooperation to fight poverty, among other areas.

In any event, proposals that might develop manufacturing, rather than maquiladora and assembly factories, seem to be absent in studies such as these. Moreover, we must keep in mind that this territory suffers from disadvantages in mobilizing its human capital. Let us remember that when the henequen agricultural industry was dismantled, the state did not even consider taking advantage of the training workers had, which for over a century had created human capital that knew how to exploit and transform natural fibers.

If the increase in outsourcing were to bring development in services activities, such as tourism, or the emergence of financial agglomeration, as occurs in some developed spaces, we would not be talking about this situation in Yucatan at all, because it would not be a risk for development. Increasing economic outsourcing has meant a growth in labor subcontracting, unemployment and informality. To all of that, we must add increasing urban concentration, a result of migration from rural areas, and a lack of public policies to deal with it. There is currently no project that includes agricultural development that might consider this migrant labor from rural areas. These people now swell the ranks of the informal labor market. Similarly, there are no significant plans for endogenous agro-industrial developments that might slow these inequalities and imbalances in the state's economic growth.


  • The territory of the state of Yucatan over these past two decades is a prime example of agro-industrial dismantling.

  • Between 1992 and 1993, the henequen agricultural industry was taken apart without ensuring space and trained personnel to regrow new industrialization. Years later, more than 50 percent of the maquiladora factories, which began to set up shop in the industrial park of Merida and in former henequen zone locations, came to an end in 2006. In that year, the majority of manufacturing plants, especially those dedicated to clothing and dress items, were dismantled. The territory now only has one small industrial plant dedicated to the food and drink industry.

  • This region has one of the most significant levels of subsidies from the federal government and is unable to generate its own fiscal apparatus to produce some type of income. In Mexico, fdi has fallen and public investment is ever more scant. Territories such as Yucatan represent, on the national scale, as explained throughout this work, spaces full of contrasts and stagnation. The reasons for this include not only the fact that the state has lost an international market niche, but also the failings of deficient, incompetent local administration that does not take advantage of local and national markets. To this we add willing but not necessarily qualified labor; there is capacity to adapt to different types of technical work, but it is not being used due to growing unemployment.

  • This is a state that is not taking advantage of its capabilities to produce, for example, some agricultural products such as fruit and agro-industrial products such as honey on a larger scale, or to develop a derivative packing sub-sector. It has also been unable to fully develop the potential market of local and national tourism.

  • On top of the state government’s deficiencies in planning, we must add that local enterprises have been unable to bring about endogenous territorial development, as has occurred in other spaces in the country, but they have found alternative paths to growth. Nor have entrepreneurs in Yucatan collaborated to propose medium and long-term investments in strategic projects to make use of coastal territory; this includes fishing companies and extension of the Port of Progreso (a space with high potential for storage and docking that is not being used to its full extent).

  • One of the major comparative advantages that Yucatan enjoys, which has been pointed out in various national and international regional studies, is its quality of life. By contrast, these studies point out growing social insecurity found in other territories in Mexico. However, informality and unemployment are putting this high quality of life at risk and may soon make this situation fragile, which should be taken into account when designing future public policies.

  • The geopolitical advantages that Yucatan enjoys in developing a tourism sector have not been taken advantage of, despite its proximity to its bordering state of Quintana Roo. Yucatan indirectly benefits from the tourism boom on the Mayan Riviera and to a minimal extent, from the multiplicative effects of growing tourism and economic development along these coastlines.

  • Also inherent to development, which I have mentioned go beyond the scope of this work, are problems related to sustainability and climate change, key points that deserve their own specialized and in-depth studies. Various works have agreed that quality of life is one of the important advantages that Yucatan enjoys, which, in the medium term, could be threatened by environmental problems, coastal contamination and sustainability in treating water for drainage. Although the state has one of the largest surface or underground water reserves in all of Mexico, the aquifer in Merida is prone to pollution. If that were not enough, we must add to these vulnerabilities issues related to climate change and the adaptations and fragilities of the Yucatan peninsula.

  • The lack of significant competitiveness in the state is not only due to poorly planned regional development. In large measure, similar to other regions in the country, it is also an effect of displacement that Mexico has experienced due to the rise of China, especially in the United States market, the principal trading partner and destination of Mexican national exports.

  • Mexico entered globalization without a prior plan for an industrial competitiveness policy:12 it would be difficult for Yucatan, one of the last spaces left with industrialization based on maquiladora assembly, to come up with its own design for competitiveness. The first years of nafta implementation saw unfortunate examples of assembly companies going bankrupt, because Mexican competitiveness has been one of the most significant weaknesses of the country in recent decades. Yucatan has not been exempt from this: incompetent and meek labor does not make for good results. Low salaries and a lack of technical training are two more disadvantages in competitiveness.

  • There is an urgent need to implement planning for this territory, which would have to include quality education, as well as important technical knowledge as tools to mitigate unemployment in the near future and the growing informal labor market.

  • Competitiveness is at odds, in the medium-term, with employment turnover. This is not a path that leads to development.

  • Regional planning cannot continue to abide governmental administrative political cuts. This space has failed to take advantage of its workers and has remained an ever-growing reservoir of cheap and unspecialized labor, which has not demanded local policies able to generate new fiscal income that would allow for some independence in planning and managing alternative development policies beyond merely temporary subsidies designed for poverty aid programs.

  • This article has described the advantages and disadvantages of the territory, and reiterate that the state of Yucatan is a mirror, perhaps more apt than other states, that reflects the shadows of development in Mexico in greater detail. In other words, a mirror in which stunted growth is a fact and inequality and low productivity that leads to incompetence rule. Therein lies the growth of unsustainable development, lagging in education, the disproportionate increase in unemployment, the increase in outsourcing and a high percentage, over 60 percent, of the economically active population installed in the informal labor sector.

  • With regard to North's opinions and what Jaime Ros writes, the territory of the state of Yucatan, as a member of the United Mexican States, has shown institutional weakness in that it is unable to generate rules to restructure and reformulate new social and political relations at the economic level. We find an example of this in the economic policies of the last two decades of the twentieth century that led to the installation of maquiladoras and only served to temporarily mitigate unemployment.

In conclusion, and in keeping with what this entire text is about, there is a clear need for economic growth in this territory. Some needs could be addressed by creating new institutions within a framework of sustainable development. In any event, these changes must be considered for the "long term," because transformations are slow and there are numerous obstacles to sort out. All new institutions affect economic regulations and power relations and there will be resistance from already established groups: mentalities are most resistant to movements (Duby, 1961: 946-947). History on a micro scale will register individual and group reactions, while long-term history will reveal the so-called “prisons of time” to which Braudel makes reference and which do not allow cultural heritage and behavior codes and model to easily change.

Even so, these institutions should be able to produce new negotiations and agreements to generate endogenous growth: certain local growth would take advantage of some alternative potential that up until now has been unexplored. Clothing workshops for the industry are an example of this. Institutional development based on governmental institutions and local endogenous growth in which entrepreneurial and other organizations participate could bring about synergy.


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Consejo Nacional de Población (Conapo), Índice de marginación por entidad federativa y municipio 2010 (consulted September 10, 2012), available at: <http://www.conapo.gob.mx/work/models/conapo/indices_margina/mf2010/CapitulosPDF/1_4.pdf>.

enoe (2009), consulta interactiva de indicadores estratégicos (InfoLaboral), (consulted August 25, 2012), available at: <http://www.inegi. org.mx/est/contenidos/Proyectos/encuestas/hogares/regulares/enoe/ Default.aspx>

Gobierno del estado de Yucatán, Anexo estadístico del V Informe de gobierno, September 2012 (consulted October 10, 2012), available at: <http://www.yucatan.gob.mx/transparencia/informes_gobierno.php>.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (inegi), Banco de Información Económica (bie), Ocupación, empleo y remuneraciones (consulted August 15, 2012), available at: <http://www.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/bie/>.

______, Banco de Información Económica (bie), Industria Manufacturera, Maquiladora y de servicios de Exportación (immex) (consulted August 15, 2012), available at: <http://www.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/bie/?id serPadre=10200130#D10200130>.

______, Encuesta Nacional de Empleo, Yucatán, 2000 (consulted August 20, 2012), available at: <http://www.inegi.org.mx/prod_serv/ contenidos/espanol/bvinegi/productos/encuestas/hogares/ene/2000/ yuc/444556I.pdf>.

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* UNAM Institute of Economic Research, Mexico. estherb@unam.mx

1 As Jaime Ros writes, “With the work by Halls and Jones (1999) on the role of “social infrastructure” in economic development, there was a big push for institutionalist literature that sought to explain the per capita income differences between countries based on institutional differences (2013: 4). (This work is part of a book by the author, soon to be published, entitled Rethinking Economic Development, Growth and Institutions, Oxford University Press).

2 For a broader perspective of these migratory processes involving the rural population of Yucatan, see the study by Esther Iglesias (2011), “New Yucatan Migration: Territories and Remittances,” in Migración y Desarrollo, vol. 9, num. 17, Mexico, uaz, second semester 2011, pp.69-90.

3 This figure is equivalent to eight dollars a day, using the peso to dollar (US) exchange rate from 2005.

4 The highest level of illiteracy in Mexico is found in the state of Chiapas, with 17.9 percent, followed by Guerrero at 16.8 percent and Oaxaca, with 16.4 percent. The lowest figure is found in Mexico City with 2.1 percent, according to statistics published by the National Population Council in accordance with the results of the General Population and Housing Census of 2010 (Conapo, 2010).

5 Some works that measure the regional specifications of convergence in Mexico have reached the conclusion that: “before 1985, there was regional convergence. That is, before the opening of the Mexican economy (when the nation entered the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (gatt). However, following the signature and entry into force of nafta (in 1994), Mexican states showed real divergence with accented regional disparities. One of the important conclusions of empirical studies reveals that, following nafta, the states along the Northern Mexican border experienced a significant increase in gdp per capita as a result of improved human capital and labor productivity" (Calderón and Tykhonenko, 2006: 378).

6 The oecd study builds a disparity indicator between Mexican states using the average annual growth rate for the time period from 1995 to 2001. According to this indicator, Yucatan (one a scale between 1% and 6%), is of little relevance in growth, although other states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala are even lower. The concentration of economic activity in Merida, the capital city of the state of Yucatan, is noted as the principal cause of these disparities (oecd, 2008: 32).

7 From 2007 to 2011, this crop has decreased. The number of hectares planted with henequen in these years was, respectively, 16,753 ha, 15,162 ha, 14,537 ha and 13,576 ha (Government of the state of Yucatan, 2012).

8 “Both García Zamora (2008) and Delgado, Wise and Márquez (2006: 121-137), through different paths, agree that remittances are a majority salary component destined for the survival of the population" (Iglesias, 2011: 87).

9 In the 1980s, national and international capital acquired the traditional biscuit company Palma (acquired by Gamesa of Monterrey), the Yucatan beer producer (Grupo Modelo), Trevi (acquired by Bimbo), Campi, Prolac (by the company Lala) and Grupo Bachoco has been growing more and more in Yucatan (Torres Góngora, 2006: 184).

10 We must keep in mind that the unemployment rate in Yucatan is obfuscated with personnel increases in the informal economy. The National Statistics and Geography Institute of Mexico (inegi) defines an employed person, at the time of surveying the population, as people that perform some type of economic activity in the week of reference, in any of the following situations: i) working at least one hour a day to produce goods and/or services independently or subordinated, with or without remuneration, ii) temporarily absent from the job without breaking the labor link to the economic unit. Employees of the primary sector dedicated to production for self-consumption are also included here (except for firewood collecting) (inegi, 2013).

11 Let us remember that, due to recent administrative changes, the country is currently divided into two major zones (before there were three) that require different minimum wages. This includes the Southeast zone, where the state of Yucatan is located, which is the region that receives minimum wage B, equivalent to 61.38 Mexican pesos a day, or 4.8 dollars a day (stps, 2013).

12 Reforma, “The nafta Region is Seen as a Loser,” October 8, 2012. “The nafta model of openness promoted in the second half of the 1990s (1995-2000) has lost steam. Proof of that lies in the fact that both Canada and Mexico have been displaced by China as the first and second trading partners of the United States, respectively.” Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian nation saw gdp growth of 170 percent, while Mexico only grew 18.7 percent.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 50, Number 196 January-March 2019 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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