Get access

The Reshaping of Mexican Labor Exports under NAFTA: Paradoxes and Challenges



From the perspective of the political economy of development, this article analyzes the role played by Mexican labor in the U.S. productive restructuring process under the aegis of the North American Free Trade Agreement. By conceptualizing the labor export–led model it dissects three basic mechanisms of regional economic integration: maquiladoras, disguised maquilas, and labor migration. Not only does this analytical framework cast light on the contributions made by Mexican migrants to the economies of the United States and Mexico, it also reveals two paradoxes: the broadening of the socioeconomic asymmetries between the two countries, and increased socioeconomic dependence on remittances in Mexico.