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Mexico: Porfirian Modernization
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > The Porfiriato, 1876-1910 > Porfirian Modernization

PORFIRIAN MODERNIZATION


Diaz's strategy of export-oriented growth led to Mexico's rapid integration into the world economy. The modernization program was based on exploitation of the country's natural resources, using cheap domestic labor and foreign capital and technology for export production.

Foreign capital fueled dynamic growth, and an expanding rail network promoted export agriculture, manufacturing, and mining. Agriculture and livestock export products expanded to include cattle and cattle hides, coffee, cotton, henequen, sugar, vanilla, and chicle. Railroads allowed the exploitation of new land in the north for cotton cultivation and enabled Mexico to double its cotton production between 1887 and 1910.

The Díaz regime encouraged manufacturing through export incentives, high protective tariffs on foreign manufactured products, low transportation costs, and abolition of the transactions tax on business. The number of industrial enterprises -- most of them heavily backed by United States, French, German, and British investors -- grew rapidly, and the volume of manufactured goods doubled between 1877 and 1910.

The railroads also contributed to the revival of mining because they provided the only feasible means of transporting huge amounts of ore. Legal reforms in 1884 lowered taxes on mining and allowed foreign ownership of subsoil resources, spurring a large increase in United States and European investment in Mexican mines.




Last Updated: June 1996


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Mexico was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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