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Abstract

The North American Free Trade Agreement appeared to promise economic growth for Mexico and improved living conditions for its people. While the Mexican economy has recovered significantly from its post-NAFTA collapse, there is mounting evidence that many of the pre-NAFTA warnings of worsening poverty and deteriorating environmental conditions were true, if exaggerated. However one interprets the statistics, there is little doubt that the economic integration process, which began a full decade before NAFTA took effect, has created a significant restructuring of the Mexican economy, with some of the country's most vulnerable residents facing the harshest conditions. How have those most affected by the economic integration process responded to the challenges and opportunities posed by globalization? Based on a collaborative research project between U.S. and Mexican researchers, the authors provide an overview of the existing English-language research on the subject and suggest a research agenda to assess adaptive strategies and to draw from those experiences lessons for the construction of future trade agreements.

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