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Could Mexico become the new ‘China’? Policy drivers of competitiveness and productivity

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  • Sean M. Dougherty
  • Octavio R. Escobar

Abstract

Over the last decade, Mexico’s unit labour costs decreased relative to other emerging markets’, especially compared to China’s. This decrease boosted Mexico’s trade competitiveness, particularly in the manufacturing sector. However, Mexico’s increasing competitiveness masks one of the country’s fundamental concerns, which is the absence of productivity improvements. The aim of this paper is two-fold: first, we examine the evolution of total factor productivity in Mexico’s manufacturing sector, as compared to China’s. Firm-level data is employed to analyse the distribution and characteristics of productivity across Mexico’s regions. Second, using regional data for the period 2005–2012, we study the policy impediments behind sluggish productivity improvements, particularly to determine how labour informality may have contributed. The study takes advantage of Mexico’s heterogeneity across regions in terms of productivity, market regulation, financial constraints and firm size to identify economic policies that can help to boost productivity in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean M. Dougherty & Octavio R. Escobar, 2016. "Could Mexico become the new ‘China’? Policy drivers of competitiveness and productivity," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 13(2), pages 169-198, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:liu:liucej:v:13:y:2016:i:2:p:169-198
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:liu:liucej:v:13:y:2016:i:2:p:169-198 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sean M. Dougherty & Octavio R. Escobar, 2016. "Could Mexico become the new ‘China’? Policy drivers of competitiveness and productivity," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 13(2), pages 169-198, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity; microdata; sub-national policy analysis; informality; allocative efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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