ABSTRACT

Mexico’s economic development proceeded for decades on the assumption that the benefits from a rising national product and progressive industrialization would eventually trickle down to the masses. Although capitalist accumulation programs have never been based on illusions about their objectives—increasing profits by broadening markets through employing more workers—the Mexican state rarely could dedicate itself single-mindedly to pursue these objectives; popular mobilizations of workers and small farmers have repeatedly exacted concessions from the government to improve social services and raise wages. Most government programs, however, are oriented to stimulating economic growth by providing the infrastructure necessary to spark private investment and create an environment conducive to profit making. But the very success of the government’s pro-business policies has depended on the state’s great flexibility in responding, when necessary, to urban and rural demands to share in economic growth through increases in wages or benefits.