I HAVE BEEN STUDYING Mexico for many years, from the time I lived there more than thirty years ago. Since then I have observed some remarkable achievements such as maintenance of political stability under a structure that is uniquely Mexican and high growth rates sustained over a long period. Mexican leaders must have done many things right to have attained this record. But there also have been defects in the Mexican miracle, as Mexico's success has sometimes been called. The main defect, in my view, has been the inequitable distribution of Mexico's economic growth, made evident by, for example, skewed benefits in favor of well-to-do persons, the high level of unemployment and underemployment, the lack of opportunities in rural areas, and the allocation of federal funds that has contributed to these inequalities.
These are largely Mexican affairs, and for the most part I have remained a witness rather than a commentator. However, they are not purely Mexican. It is clear that what happens in either Mexico or the United States affects the other country. U.S. recession restricts imports from Mexico; high U.S. unemployment stimulates protectionism of U.S. industry. Mexican growth leads to more imports from the United States; inequalities and underemployment in Mexico stimulate emigration to the United States. Prosperity in either country is good for both. Prosperity and reasonable equity in both is ideal for both. These are my starting premises.
What stimulated me to write this book was a certain perversity in outlook. I had heard repeatedly from Mexican and American colleagues that the economic differences between the two countries precluded taking any formal steps toward trade integration. The polarization, or "backwash," thesis first set forth by Gunnar Myrdal was, by general consensus, accepted as inviolable. How could a country with a low per