February 2014, Mark Weisbrot, Stephan Lefebvre, and Joseph Sammut
This paper compares the performance of the Mexican economy with that of the rest of the region over the past 20 years, based on the available economic and social indicators, and with its own past economic performance. Among the results it finds that Mexico ranks 18th out of 20 Latin American countries in growth of real GDP per person, the most basic economic measure of living standards; Mexico’s poverty rate of in 2012 was almost identical to the poverty rate of 1994; real (inflation-adjusted) wages for Mexico were almost the same in 2012 as in 1994; and unemployment has increased significantly. It also notes that if NAFTA had been successful in restoring Mexico’s pre-1980 growth rate – when developmentalist economic policies were the norm – Mexico today would be a relatively high income country, with income per person significantly higher than that of Portugal or Greece. It is unlikely that immigration reform would be a major political issue in the United States, since relatively few Mexicans would seek to cross the border.
This report was updated in March 2017.