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Place-specific Determinants of Income Gaps: New Sub-National Evidence from Chiapas, Mexico


  • Ricardo Hausmann

    () (Center for International Development at Harvard University)

  • Carlo Pietrobelli
  • Miguel Angel Santos

    () (Center for International Development at Harvard University)


The literature on income gaps between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico revolves around individual factors, such as education and ethnicity. Yet, twenty years after the Zapatista rebellion, the schooling gap between Chiapas and the other Mexican entities has shrunk while the income gap has widened, and we find no evidence indicating that Chiapas indigenes are worse-off than their likes elsewhere in Mexico. We explore a different hypothesis. Based on census data, we calculate the economic complexity index, a measure of the knowledge agglomeration embedded in the economic activities at a municipal level in Mexico. Economic complexity explains a larger fraction of the income gap than any individual factor. Our results suggest that chiapanecos are not the problem, the problem is Chiapas. These results hold when we extend our analysis to Mexico’s thirty-one federal entities, suggesting that place-specific determinants that have been overlooked in both the literature and policy, have a key role in the determination of income gaps.

Suggested Citation

  • Ricardo Hausmann & Carlo Pietrobelli & Miguel Angel Santos, 2018. "Place-specific Determinants of Income Gaps: New Sub-National Evidence from Chiapas, Mexico," CID Working Papers 343, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cid:wpfacu:343

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584-584.
    2. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2000. "Rural poverty in Latin America: Determinants and exit paths," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 389-409, August.
    3. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 1996. "Household Modeling For The Design Of Poverty Alleviation Strategies," CUDARE Working Papers 25121, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
    4. Philip McCann & Raquel Ortega-Argilés, 2015. "Smart Specialization, Regional Growth and Applications to European Union Cohesion Policy," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(8), pages 1291-1302, August.
    5. Miguel Angel Santos & Silvio Dal Buoni & Celeste Lusetti & Elisabeth Garriga, 2015. "Piloto de Crecimiento Inclusivo en comunidades indígenas de Chiapas (Cruztón, Chamula)," CID Working Papers 65, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    6. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    7. Michael Storper, 2011. "Why do regions develop and change? The challenge for geography and economics," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 333-346, March.
    8. Van Leeuwen, Mathijs & Van Der Haar, Gemma, 2016. "Theorizing the Land–Violent Conflict Nexus," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 94-104.
    9. repec:idb:idbbks:7605 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Franco Boneu & David Alfaro Serrano & Alessandro Maffioli & Carlo Pietrobelli & Rodolfo Stucchi & Gabriel Casaburi & Victoria Castillo & Lucas Figal Garone & Elisa Giuliani & David Giuliodori & Andrés, 2016. "The Impact Evaluation of Cluster Development Programs: Methods and Practices," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 94056 edited by Alessandro Maffioli & Carlo Pietrobelli & Rodolfo Stucchi, February.
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    More about this item


    Chiapas; Mexico; economic complexity; development policy; public-private dialogue; internal migrations;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General

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