As the subtitle to this book indicates, Serrón sets out to test the applicability of Malthus and Marx to poverty in Mexico. Malthus, of course, stated that population increase would eventually outstrip the production of food. Malthus was incorrect since technology has proved to be capable of increasing food production for the last two hundred years. Marx refuted Malthus by asserting that it was not population increase per se that was responsible for poverty and starvation, but the failure of social institutions to adapt to population increase. Capitalist institutions particularly are unable to redistribute income and wealth to alleviate increasing poverty and scarcity. The book then assembles data to test whether Malthus or Marx was right with respect to Mexico, although from the outset there is no question that Marx will prove to be the winner. The idea is an excellent one and Mexico could prove to be a superb testing ground.
Unfortunately, this book falls flat on its face. A reviewer normally begins by looking at the bibliography and this one was immediately confronted by a very poor bibliography. There are no scholarly citations beyond 1975. Upon reading the text, it becomes evident what the problem is: there are no post-1970 data presented and most of the data and citations are from the early 1960s. The question of the illegal alien is discussed in terms of the bracero; the nutrition of Mexicans is analyzed in sadly dated terms; there is no mention whatsoever of the presidency of Luis Echevarría; the effects of the “Green Revolution” on Mexico’s agricultural sector are ignored; very little is said about trade patterns with the United States.