Volume 45 Number 179,
October - December 2014

Economic Development in Middle Regions in Mexico, Adolfo Sánchez (coord.), IIEC-UNAM, 2013.

Regional development is a structural process of socioeconomic and environmental change, whose central objective revolves around improving the welfare of the population in a given territory and reducing social and economic inequalities with an eye to sustainability. This process involves the expansion of productive and sociocultural capacities and opportunities, as well as social policies. This work begins with this definition, and offers up a series of texts that explain the economic structure and evolution of Mexican regions over recent decades.

This book consists of seven chapters analyzing the development of Mexico’s centrally located regions based on census information from 1970, 1990, 2000 and 2005, aiming to spread awareness of the economic and social development potential of each area. The first chapter, entitled, "Regional Development Theories," provides the theoretical framework for regional studies, understanding that some regions are better equipped than others to take advantage of their natural resources and human and material potential. It provides an overview of the principal theoretical schools of thought in the field of regional economics: convergence theory, divergence theory, endogenous growth theory and new approaches to regional analysis.

The next chapter, entitled, "The Middle Regions of Mexico. An Analytical Scale to Implement Public Policies," addresses the overall spatial perspective and reviews the most representative regions in Mexico, some characterized by economic contiguity or homogeneity, others more functional and some that emphasize socioeconomic planning. Special attention is given to the regions described by the geographer Ángel Bassols Batalla, those described by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and those included in the development plans of each state.

Chapter three, entitled, "The Structure and Trajectory of Middle Regions," evaluates the economic trajectories of the 214 state planning districts. This section offers quantitative metrics to make a comparison among the regions and generate a typology to determine where each region ranks on the national level and in this way, conduct a demographic analysis and look at the relationship to wealth generation. This regional analysis also provides other useful indices such as the location, specialization, economic base, variation and regional competitiveness quotients, among others.

The fourth chapter, entitled "The Regions of Chiapas and Their Economic Development Potential," begins the section of case studies, evaluating the development potential of these regions through a functional regionalization. The regions contain the following major cities: Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Tapachula, San Cristóbal and Comitán, which each have a zone of influence that generally covers the entire state, are connected by major roads and surpass a population threshold so as to have the economic power to reduce the social underdevelopment of the State.

Chapter five, entitled "Economic Development and the Potential of the Lerma-Chapala Region" offers an overview of this region in Michoacan, evaluating its potential based on its system of cities. The cities of Zamora, Jacona, Sahuayo and Jiquilpan stand out, together home to 62% of the regional population and serving as backbones of the sub-system. The region has medium to low marginalization and the chapter concludes that one of its principal challenges will be to reduce migration rates, which are causing cumulative underdevelopment.

This work would not be complete without an analysis of one of the most geostrategically important regions in Mexico, in a chapter entitled, "The Region of the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Mexico." It notes the region’s geopolitical significance with a historical review of its social and environmental wealth. Another aspect addressed is the role of various regional development programs that the government has sought to implement. It also pays special attention to the various indigenous-farmer, labor and student organizations that have struggled daily to defend their territories and natural resources in the past and present.

Finally, another case study appears in the chapter, "New Territorial Trajectories for the Food Supply Pattern in Mexico," which discusses the fact that food supply is defined by the metropolis through two principal channels. The first is traditional and has operated in recent decades, led by a wholesale market, which acts as the nerve center for supplier zones and as the provider to the thousands of small shops upon which the population depends. The second is a modern channel that, following the opening of markets, has recently started to predominate and dictate new patterns of consumption, in the form of self-service stores and supermarkets. As the text reveals, the social-spatial and economic impact of each of these channels has implications far beyond the borders of the cities.

The collective efforts contained in this book are also found in the three appendices available online. One is methodological, and allows for inquiries of the various indices estimated, the second includes a series of statistical tables for various years and territorial scales and, finally, the third is an appendix with 178 maps of the state planning districts for all of the variables calculated.

In summary, this work brings together theoretical and methodological aspects of the development paths and potential of centrally located regions, making it an essential reference for academics and students who study this topic, as well as for the public sector that wants to understand the potential of each of the Mexican regions. One advantage is that by using the appendices, anyone can replicate the various calculations shown in the book for their own region of interest.

Rafael Olmos
Institute of Economic Research – unam

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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The online journal Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía corresponds to the printed edition of the same title with ISSN 0301-7036