This book provides a lucid introduction to the history of economic development in Mexico by means of a comparison with the United States. It engages with debates in economic history about the roles and importance of geography and institutions in the paths to prosperity. It also revisits dependency theory while putting the emphasis on national contexts.

In part 1 of the book the author gives a succinct account of the interconnected histories of both countries, which share a 2,000-mile-long border. He proposes a framework of five “foundational factors” to understand their divergent economic performance throughout the centuries: the natural environment, natural resources, population dynamics, foreign relations, and the structure of production and governance. The first three amount to a country's factor endowments and are discussed in part 2 of the book. The fourth one, ranging from political and military pressures to capital...

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