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Mexico's Growing Middle Class


Mexico’s economy sputtered earlier this year, but a recovery—however anemic—is on the way, and as the NYT reports, the country is seeing promising signs for growing its middle class:

[A]fter the free-market wave of the 1990s failed to produce much more than low-skilled factory work, Mexico is finally attracting the higher-end industries that experts say could lead to lasting prosperity. Here, in [Guanajuato, Mexico,] a mostly poor state long known as one of the country’s main sources of illegal immigrants to the United States, a new Mexico has begun to emerge.

Dozens of foreign companies are investing, filling in new industrial parks along the highways. Middle-class housing is popping up in former watermelon fields, and new universities are waving in classes of students eager to study engineering, aeronautics and biotechnology, signaling a growing confidence in Mexico’s economic future and what many see as the imported meritocracy of international business. In a country where connections and corruption are still common tools of enrichment, many people here are beginning to believe they can get ahead through study and hard work.

So often, the media coverage we see of Mexico ignores the solid but less sensational progress our southern neighbor is making in favor of salacious, bloody stories of a country torn apart by a prolonged drug war. The widespread violence remains a huge problem for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, but unlike his predecessor Nieto seems willing to tackle many of the other problems Mexico faces. He pushed through education reform, is working to restructure the nation’s telecoms industry, and maybe most importantly is in the process of securing reforms to the nation’s constitution to bring private, foreign investment into the country’s energy resources.

Mexico has tremendous potential—the CEO of the country’s state-owned oil company predicted his country could be the “new Middle East,” and cheap energy could mold it into a manufacturing powerhouse. There’s a lot to be excited about in Mexico, and for the US, having a stronger, stabler southern neighbor is a welcome change, too.

[North America image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • lukelea

    “Mexico is finally attracting the higher-end industries that experts say could lead to lasting prosperity”

    Gotta admit that when I see a news story that says something “could” happen in the future I generally stop reading.

  • lukelea

    So Mexico’s middle-class is growing while America’s is melting away? Maybe the two will meet in the new lower-middle class Tyler Cowen was recently touting.

    Do we get Latin American style oligarchy to go with those beans?

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