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The Biophysical Perspective of a Middle Income Economy: Material Flows in Mexico

  • Ana C Gonzalez-Martinez
  • Heinz Schandl

    ()

    (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Australia)

In this paper 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 over the last 30 years. During this time, population growth, rather than economic growth, has been the main driving force for biophysical growth. In addition, a fundamental change in the primary sectors, in manufacturing as well as in household consumption, has taken place and is reflected in an increasing importance of fossil fuel and construction materials use. Mexico’s economy is strongly influenced by international trade since the country has opened up for competition on international markets. In the 1970s, Mexico’s main export was primary resources. This has changed and manufactured goods now have much greater importance due to a boom in assembling industries. Mexico, unlike other Latin American countries, has achieved a diversification of production moving towards technology intensive products and now has a better mix in its export portfolio. However, crude oil exports still represent the single most important export commodity. Mexico’s material consumption is still well bellow the OECD average but is growing fast and the current resource use patterns may well present serious social and environmental problems for the medium and long term sustainability of Mexico’s economy and communities. Information on natural resource use and resource productivity could provide valuable information to guide economic policy planning for Mexico’s future.

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Paper provided by CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems in its series Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series with number 2007-10.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cse:wpaper:2007-10
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stern , David I., 1998. "Progress on the environmental Kuznets curve?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 173-196, May.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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