Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
Maquiladora Factories and Household
Income in Yucatan
Javier Becerril, Rafael Ortiz and Lilian Albornoz
Origin and Background of the Maquiladora Export Industry in Yucatán

According to Quintal (2010), from the end of the nineteenth century to the 1980s, the central-southern region of Yucatán was part of a zone whose economy was based on cultivating henequen, an agave plant native to the peninsula and whose fiber was much in demand by the international market until the mid-twentieth century, when global production of artificial substitutes began. Due to the fall in demand for henequen fiber, during the second half of the 1980s and the end of the twentieth century, the maquiladora industry became the region’s main economic activity.

It is important to analyze the mei since it became a job creator in the state. In accordance with Castilla and Torres (2009), the presence of foreign capital in the mei in Yucatán can be divided into two stages: i) the first stage, from 1984 to 1994, when foreign capital was installed in industrial corridors in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán; ii) the second, beginning halfway through 1990, when the Henequenera Regional Development Program was implemented, establishing the mei in rural municipalities and localities in the interior of the state, coinciding on the national level with the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta), which entered into force in 1994. The mei grew especially quickly as a result of nafta. Provisions of this document related to fostering maquiladoras particularly broadened the opportunities for manufacturing companies to operate under the maquiladora scheme and to be able to temporarily import all kinds of inputs and produce for exportation (Gómez, 2004). Recently, Mexico has seen the maquiladora factories that most require unqualified labor move from the north and center of the country to Caribbean coastal states, where salaries are lower than in the rest of the republic.

Additionally, in 2006, the Program for the Promotion and Operation of meis and the Temporary Importation Program for Production of Articles for Exportation (pitex) were merged to create the Manufacturing, Maquiladora and Export Services Industries Program (immex). According to the authors, in 2009, there were 6,694 companies registered in immex in Mexico, and in this same year, Yucatán reported 93 manufacturing and maquiladora establishments, which generated a combined 18,858 jobs. Out of the immex industry in Yucatán, 85% exported to the United States of America (usa) (Secretariat of Economics, 2009).

With this background, the goal of this study came from the results of the Rural Dynamic Territories Program (rdt) Yucatán, initially implemented in 2009. This program consisted of three stages, 1A, 2A and 2B (Yúnez, et al., 2009 and Yúnez et al., 2011). Stage 1A rested on an analysis of the typology of rural territories based on improvements or reductions in the level of well-being among habitants in the municipality for the period from 1990 to 2005. Well-being in that study included: per capita consumption, incidence of poverty and Gini coefficients. One of the territories that presented positive dynamics and improvements in the three indicators was made up of the four municipalities of Cuzamá, Homún, Acanceh and Huhí (chah, for future references), proposed here for study. The results of this research suggested a series of territories to be studied in-depth by the rdt stage 2A and 2B.

In stages 2A and 2B of rdt-Yucatán, Yúnez et al. (2011) analyzed the dynamics of the chah territory for the period from 1990 to 2010. One of the major findings is that there was a change from the predominance of mainly agricultural economic activities to the diversification of economic activities and income sources for the territory’s residents. The economic transformation that the chah underwent can be observed based on the Henequenera public agricultural industry at the beginning of the 1990s, with the initiation of diversified productive activities that was a result of the relationship between exogenous and endogenous factors in the territory. Some of the first findings that stand out were government actions taken following the implementation of the Program to Reorient the Henequenera Region and Comprehensive Development of Yucatán in 1984, together with employment driven by growth outside of the territory and the establishment of the mei.

Goals of Analysis

This study analyzes the importance of total annual income per individual working for a maquiladora factory, versus another type of job available in a specific territory, with a rigorous quantitative approach and analysis at the territory, home and individual level (microeconomic), which has never been carried out before for this region.

The specific goal of this article is to evaluate the impacts of the mei on a territory made up of four municipalities: Cuzamá, Homún, Acanceh and Huhí. This study also has an academic component, as it provides an alternative methodology for quantitative analysis to evaluate the economic impacts of the maquiladora export sector established in Yucatán in mid-1990. It is also useful to direct the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy programs in Mexico or Yucatán, with the goal of incentivizing regional economic development.

Concretely, the goal is to understand how income of residents in the chah divided between mei and non-mei workers starting from the establishment of the mei impacted the territory’s economy. To do so, the following is presented: analytical tools, information sources, and information analysis. This study concludes with a discussion of the results obtained.

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March 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,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Feb 23th, 2018.
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