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

Ana Citlalic Gonzalez-Martinez, Heinz Schandl

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    44 Citations (Scopus)


    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. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-327
    JournalEcological Economics
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


    • Material flows
    • Mexico
    • Natural resources
    • Physical accounting
    • Resource use efficiency
    • Resource use patterns and dynamics


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