Urban restructuring in Latin America : the cases of Mexico and Peru

Giusti Hundskopf, Maria Cecilia, 1959-
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Between and after the world wars, Latin American countries implemented industrialization policies known as the Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) model. This model reinforced an urbanization pattern in most of these countries, generally known as the “urban primate” system, which implied a disproportionate growth of one or a few metropolitan centers while the rest of the country missed much of the economic growth. Since the last years of the twentieth century, though, a different approach from the ISI model has signaled an important shift in the macroeconomic policies being implemented in the region. This policy shift, and the different production techniques and organization associated with it, are the center of our analysis. It is our hypothesis that these two trends result on a redefinition of the spatial implications of industrialization. On the one side it will reduce the importance of primate cities and stimulate the growth of intermediate and smaller cities, growth that was contained during the ISI period. On the other side, it will redefine the dynamic economic sectors that promote growth in these cities: some types of economic activities will stay in primary cities as long as they require a more qualified labor force and a complex infrastructure that is only available in these primate cities. The study concentrates on two countries, Mexico and Peru, and their major cities, Mexico DF and Lima. Both countries are examples of urban primacy and they both implemented restructuring policies by which they opened their economies to the world economy and reduced the role of protective central governments.