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Industrialization and Land Use Change in Mexican Border Cities: The Case of Ciudad Juárez, México

Adrian X. Esparza, Javier Chávez, Brigitte Waldorf


The maquiladora (maquila) economy has brought enormous change to Mexico's northern border region during the last few decades. Scholars have studied many aspects of the region's maquila economy, including bi-national trade, a range of environmental issues, and social and cultural impacts arising from rapid industrialization. Few, however, have examined the relationship between industrialization and the development of urban land. We respond to this deficiency by investigating land use change in Ciudad Juárez, México, during the 1988-1993 period. Two objectives guide the research. First, we document the extent to which the maquila economy has fostered rapid population growth and employment change in Ciudad Juárez and other Mexican border cities. Second, a simple simulation procedure is used to show how growth of the maquila economy has distorted residential and commercial land development in the city. The results indicate that during the 1988-1993 period residential land in the city was "overdeveloped" while commercial land was "underdeveloped." The results offer important clues for understanding the impacts of rapid industrialization, and for guiding urban planning efforts in Mexican border cities.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229