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The biophysical perspective of a middle income economy: Material Flows in Mexico

  • Ana Citlalic Gonzalez-Martinez

    (Departament d'Economia i d'Història Econòmica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

  • Heinz Schandl

    (CSIRO, Sustainable Ecosystems)

We analyse natural resource use dynamics in the Mexican economy during the last three decades. Despite low and uneven economic growth, the extraction and use of materials in the Mexican economy has continuously increased during the last 30 years. In this period, population growth rather than economic growth was the main driving force for biophysical growth. In addition, fundamental changes have taken place in the primary sectors, in manufacturing, and in household consumption and these are reflected in an increasing emphasis on the use of fossil fuels and construction materials. Mexico’s economy has been strongly influenced by international trade since the country commenced competing in international markets. In the 1970s, Mexico mainly exported primary resources. This pattern has changed and manufactured goods now have a much greater importance due to a boom in assembling industries. In contrast with other Latin American countries, Mexico has achieved a diversification of production, moving towards technology-intensive products and a better mix in its export portfolio. However, crude oil exports still represent the single most important export good. Mexico’s material consumption is still well below the OECD average but is growing fast and the current resource use patterns may well present serious social and environmental problems to the medium and long term sustainability of Mexico’s economy and community. Information on natural resource use and resource productivity could provide valuable guidance for economic policy planning in Mexico.

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Paper provided by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica in its series UHE Working papers with number 2007_10.

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Length: 25 pages
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Handle: RePEc:aub:uhewps:2007_10
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  1. Stern , David I., 1998. "Progress on the environmental Kuznets curve?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 173-196, May.
  2. Aguayo, Francisco & Gallagher, Kevin P., 2005. "Economic reform, energy, and development: the case of Mexican manufacturing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 829-837, May.
  3. Ana Citlalic González Martínez, 2007. "Material Flow Accounting of Mexico (1970-2003). Sources and Methods," UHE Working papers 2007_01, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Departament d'Economia i Història Econòmica, Unitat d'Història Econòmica.
  4. Gately, Mark, 2007. "The EROI of U.S. offshore energy extraction: A net energy analysis of the Gulf of Mexico," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 355-364, August.
  5. Perez-Rincon, Mario Alejandro, 2006. "Colombian international trade from a physical perspective: Towards an ecological "Prebisch thesis"," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(4), pages 519-529, October.
  6. Moreno Brid, Juan Carlos & Rivas Valdivia, Juan Carlos & Santamaría, Jesús, 2005. "Mexico: economic growth, exports and industrial performance after NAFTA," Estudios y Perspectivas – Sede Subregional de la CEPAL en México 4963, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
  7. Weisz, Helga & Krausmann, Fridolin & Amann, Christof & Eisenmenger, Nina & Erb, Karl-Heinz & Hubacek, Klaus & Fischer-Kowalski, Marina, 2006. "The physical economy of the European Union: Cross-country comparison and determinants of material consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 676-698, July.
  8. Sachs, Jeffrey D. & Warner, Andrew M., 1999. "The big push, natural resource booms and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 43-76, June.
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