The Mexican Revolution of 1910 was essentially agrarian in character. One of its principal results was the agrarian reform program which granted land gratuitiously in the form of ejidos to landless population units. By the end of 1964 some 46,000,000 hectares of land had been granted to 20,000 ejidos involving about 2,000,000 ejidatarios and nearly half the entire farm land of the nation.

Theoretically lands granted in ejidos could be tilled either in individual plots or collectively as the ejidatarios wished. However, the author points out that in reality outside political influences have usually determined the type of operations through various persuasive measures such as propaganda, the control of credit, and other activities. The collective ejidos, for example, were established mostly during the regime of Lázaro Cárdenas when seven or eight hundred collectives were formed on some of the best lands in the nation, including such areas as the Laguna region, Yaqui Valley, Los Mochis, Lombardía, Nueva Italia, and Yucatán. Some of these became rather prosperous and brought in much greater financial returns to the ejidatarios than they had ever before experienced. For a time the collective ejido was hailed as one of the possible major solutions to the agrarian program of Mexico. Since the Cárdenas period, however, the collective ejidos have not received much encouragement on the national level, and adverse political influences, mostly from the outside, have made it almost impossible for the collectives to function efficiently. Many of them have now reverted to small individual plots tilled on an individual basis or at most, utilizing only minor cooperative procedures.

The purpose of this study was to make a comparative analysis of the economic efficiency of the collective ejido during the decade 1940-1950 in comparison with the individual ejido and with the private landholding under similar conditions. As indicators of efficiency, the author chose income, unemployment, and productivity. The study is based on statistical information derived from a sample of 2,133 census schedules involving 667 ejidos in 1940; 815 ejidos in 1950, and 651 private holdings in 1950. The sample was taken from 88 municipalities (out of Mexico’s total of 2,340) and from 11 states out of 32. The materials were divided into 16 regions and into two income groups. Data for each region were computed separately.

The author comes to a number of conclusions. In regions of high income, the collectives and semi-collectives were more efficient economically than the individual ejidos within the same region as measured by income per ejidatario, total productivity, and net yields per unit of land, labor, and capital. Underemployment was not more serious on the collective despite greater mechanization. In some respects the collectives on the better lands even surpassed the private holdings both large and small. In the low income regions, however, the individual ejidos were superior to the collectives with respect to the various indices used, but were inferior to the private holdings. Lastly, the author points out that wherever outside political attitudes toward the collectives became unfavorable, the “antisocial” conduct increased within the ejido. He feels that where physical and social conditions are favorable, the system is economically sound and socially feasible within a democratic framework. Many collectives were prosperous in spite of considerable unrest, many times generated from the outside. He warns against dogmatically promoting the collective ejido as a universal pattern but feels that where conditions seem appropriate “the collective can contribute notably to agricultural and general development within the basic objectives of the Mexican Agrarian Reform.”

Perhaps it should be pointed out that this study was based on the census data for 1940 and 1950. Eighteen years have now elapsed since 1950, and many changes incipient then have accelerated in the meantime. The author indicates that there were 486 collective ejidos in Mexico as late as 1953. On a visit to Mexico in August 1966, the reviewer got the impression from talking with numerous knowledgeable individuals that the collective ejido has now virtually disappeared from the scene, only an occasional one remaining in the better farming regions. He also received confirmation of the author’s contention that outside political factors, policies, and influences on both state and national levels have been important in bringing about the decline of the collective ejido, which has received very little encouragement from the national government since the regime of Lazaro Cárdenas.

The study is well designed and contains a wealth of information about Mexico’s agrarian program. It makes an important contribution to the literature on this subject.