This study of the Mexican Institute of Social Insurance (I.M.S.S.) analyzes the first twenty years (1944-1963) of operation of the organization. Its chief contribution rests in the large body of data and descriptive material on the operations of the I.M.S.S. that have been drawn together. Mrs. Araujo is more to be commended for amassing these statistics than criticized for not analyzing them to a greater extent. Occasionally she has glossed over apparent evidence of policy inconsistent with the stated objectives of I.M.S.S.—for instance, the extremely low relative investment in fixed assets per insured worker in the state of Nuevo León, where Mexico’s third most populous city, Monterrey, is located. Also she has failed to recognize the limitations of certain data. An example of the latter is the reliance on revenue actually received for the calculation of the rate of return on the investments of the I.M.S.S. (pp. 165, 170, 171). The investments of the I.M.S.S. would not appear so unprofitable if one were to compute the rate of return on the hospitals and administrative buildings owned by the I.M.S.S.

The author argues that institutional rigidities have weakened the I.M.S.S. and suggests that new dynamism can be implanted in the organization through a greater amount of decentralization of control and through modification of both its organic law and statutes. Simultaneously she urges reduction of the autonomy of the I.M.S.S. in determining its own investment policy, which she feels should be more closely aligned with the objectives of national economic planning. The conclusions and recommendations are frequently not linked analytically with the descriptive material presented, but seem rather to be based on Mrs. Araujo’s twelve-year experience as a technical advisor to the I.M.S.S.

An interesting observation of the study, which warrants further detailed analysis, is that there is an inequitable redistribution of income from the tax paying, poor majority to the urban, insured minority. This occurs as a consequence of the contribution of the Mexican government to the support of the programs of the I.M.S.S (p. 111). (In 1963 less than one-sixth of the Mexican population was covered by the programs of the I.M.S.S.)

This book is most likely to be of value to those interested in the organization of social welfare programs in Latin America. Certainly for anyone desiring to study the Mexican programs this book is an indispensable starting point. Mrs. Araujo has not only painstakingly assembled key statistics on the I.M.S.S. for the use of future researchers, but she has also outlined a number of issues on which additional research is desirable.