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Agrarian Structure and Labor Mobility in Rural Mexico

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					Agrarian Structure and Labor Mobility in Rural Mexico
Author(s): Kenneth D. Roberts
Source: Population and Development Review, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Jun., 1982), pp. 299-322
Published by: Population Council
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972988
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                      Agrarian Structure
                      and Labor Mobility
                      in Rural Mexico

                      Kenneth       D. Roberts




                     This articleexamines economicfactors affect
                                           the                   that       la-
bor allocation rurallandholding
               of                                in
                                     households fourareas of Mexico. The
originalresearch  objective was considerably  narrower,           on
                                                       focusing the"push
factors" causingillegalmigration theUnitedStates.However,it soon be-
                                    to
came apparent restricting analysis US migration
               that            the         to               wouldmakeit im-
possibleto distinguish   amongfactors                        of
                                        thatcause members households         to
workoff-farm general,and thosethatcondition
                in                                    thiswage labor to take
variousforms,    such as local labor, circular permanent
                                               or            migration within
                       to
Mexico, or migration theUnitedStates.
      At its broadest  level, thisis a studyof therelationship  between  rural
                                                  as
development labormobility. as tempting itis tofocusentirely
             and                  Yet,                                   upon
thetheoretical issuesinvolved,  especially thoseraisedby theemerging    litera-
    on
ture circulation on peasant
                    and             household decision-making, study
                                                                this      will
keep theissue of undocumented      migration plainlyin sight.Its conclusions,
whichchallenge assumption an inverse
                  the             of           relationshipbetween   ruraleco-
nomic                and
       development undocumented         migration, haveimportant   implications
                      of
fortheeffectiveness development                  in
                                       programs slowingthelong-term       out-
flowofrural                                   of
             migrants forthesuitability a guest-worker
                        and                                              as
                                                                program an
"interim"  solution thecurrent
                    to                      of
                                   situation insufficient opportunities
                                                          job                in
Mexico and highlevels of illegalmigration theUnitedStates.
                                             to

Migration and rural development
Muchoftheliterature therelationship economic
                    on                of                      and
                                                 development migra-
tion in less-developed
                     countries traceits lineage to the dual-economy
                              can
                                              is          of
modelofLewis (1954). In hismodeltheeconomy composed twosectors:
ruralagricultural urban
                and      industrial.
                                   Thereis surpluslaborin theagricultural
sector,and theurbanwage is set at a fixedpremium above thelevel of rural
POPULATION   AND DEVELOPMENT   REVIEW   8, NO. 2 (JUNE   1982)           299
300                              Agrarian   Structure   and Labor   Mobility in Rural Mexico


subsistence.                             is
               Capitalaccumulation thedriving                 of
                                                        force themodel,providing
increasing             of
            numbers jobs that        attract ruralmigrants.  Rural-to-urban    migration
continues  until        is                               in
                  there no longer laborsurplus thecountryside, rural
                                        a                                      and
and urban    wages are equal.
       These assumptions echoed in numerous
                               are                           characterizations the of
causes of Mexicanmigration theUnitedStates.Thus,Reubensasserts
                                  to                                                    that
undocumented      immigration a resultof "economicdualism,in whichthe
                                 is
expanding    modemsectors       existside by side withlaggingtraditional           sectors
[andin which]     surplus  workers accumulating thehinterlands agricul-
                                      are                in                   of
ture,industry, services"(1978:15).According thiswidelyheld view-
                  and                                       to
point, circular  migration theUnitedStatesrepresents interim
                              to                                 an           strategy    to
cope with   lagging opportunities rural urban
                     job                   in       and        areasof Mexico. There
is theoretical                                             in
                 support thisrole of circulation the model of Zelinsky
                           for
(1971),which     positsa seriesof migration      stagesin which                 is
                                                                   circulation gradu-
allyreplaced permanent
                by               migration urbanopportunities
                                              as                        expand.
       Further  development thedual-economy
                                of                      modelspecified rural
                                                                           the         con-
ditions that  define                         and
                      underdevelopment cause migration: lack of land and
                                                                     a
capitaland the use of traditional                     of
                                         techniques production,        resulting low
                                                                                   in
agricultural  yields; rapid  population    growth           in
                                                  resulting a low marginal        product
oflabor;resistance economically
                      by                    insecure farmers newagricultural
                                                             to                       tech-
nology newcropvarieties. important
        and                         An                          of
                                                    implication this     theory that
                                                                                 is       if
             can
agriculture be mademore           productive, tideofmigration thecitieswill
                                                 the                    to
be slowed.Programs rural of       agricultural                 in
                                                 development the1960sand 1970s,
             the
promoting adoption a mixof newgrain
                            of                                  and
                                                       varieties thegreater of      use
purchased   inputs,  often            the
                            claimed reduction migration one ofthepoten-
                                                     of            as
tialbenefits.  And,mostsignificantly thenarrower
                                            for                        of
                                                             subject thisstudy,          the
dual-economy     modelimpliesthat processof illegalmigration
                                         the                                  from    rural
Mexico to theUnitedStateswill notabateuntilMexico developsits agricul-
turalareasorprovides      jobs inthecitiesin numbers      adequate compensate
                                                                      to                 for
thelack of rural    development     (Cornelius,   1977).
       Severalrecent    studies  havechallenged empirical
                                                     the                      of
                                                                    validity thisthe-
oryformany      less-developed                 The
                                  countries. identification therural
                                                                   of             popula-
tion with agricultural       labor has been found to provide an incomplete
description economic
             of                       in
                            activity therural      areas.A study off-farm
                                                                   of            employ-
      in
ment rural      areasof 15 developing       countries found that  20-30 percent the  of
labor forcewas engagedprimarily nonfarm     in           employment      (Anderson      and
Leiserson,   1980). Beals, on thebasis ofhis research peasants Oaxaca, a
                                                             on             in
poorandpredominantly state Mexico,concluded
                             rural        in                      that              is
                                                                        "farming nei-
thertheir  primary               nor
                    occupation is ittheir         mainsource income.Thewaysof
                                                               of
         a
making livingare numerous varied"(1975:15).
                                    and
       Employment       off one's own land (called "off-farm              employment"
              this
throughout study)          mayinvolveagricultural        wage laboror other      typesof
workin thelocal area, commuting nearby     to         towns,or circular   migration     be-
tweenregions.Whilepatterns           maydiffer    greatly  betweencountries be-   and
tweenregions     within same country,
                         the                    manyrural   areas exhibit    whatWhite
(1976) has termed"extreme          occupational     multiplicity."  Goldsteinhas ob-
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                     301


served,"Whatevidently     variesfrom  country country notthevariety
                                               to         is                of
forms movement
       of            reliedupon,butrather particular of alternatives
                                             the           mix
and the exact conditions  underwhichone or the otheris reliedupon more
heavily"(1978:55).
       Nor does agricultural "development"   necessarily result reducedmi-
                                                               in
gration even reducedoff-farm
        or                          employment,   as impliedin the traditional
        In
theory. many    instances, varieties seedsand newtechniques
                           new           of                          adopted
in less-developed countries during 1960snotonlydecreased
                                   the                          laborrequire-
ments also lowered
       but              incomesforcertain    strata farmers forlandless
                                                   of         and
laborers (Hewitt Alcantara,
                 de              1976). The new technology           a
                                                             requires higher
levelofpurchased   inputs givesthefarmer latitude
                          and                  less         with        to
                                                                respect the
timing amounts laborand machinery
       and           of                              A
                                            inputs. newcropping    pattern  or
technology  might have potential increasing
                                  for            incomeand employment    but,
within particular
       a           socioeconomic  context,couldcausegreater   concentration of
landbecauseof theinability smallfarmers afford necessary
                              of               to        the          level of
purchased  inputs to assumehigher
                 and                   levelsofrisk.Seasonalconcentration   of
laborinputs the new varieties
             for                     mightcause labor-supply  bottlenecks and
stimulate compensating  changes cropping
                                 in                   and
                                            patterns increased    mechaniza-
tion.
      These findings   imply  thatcircular          does
                                          migration notnecessarily       repre-
senta transitional phasebetween              agricultural
                                   traditional                        and
                                                          employment per-
manentmigration     froma region. In contrast the portrayal circular
                                                  to                of
migration                    to         of
          as corresponding a period declining       agriculturalproduction  per
worker, although decline
                  a             is
                            that notsevere           to
                                             enough causepermanent      migra-
tionfrom  agriculture, wouldappearthat
                        it                  agriculturaldevelopment even
                                                                     may
stimulate circularmigration.   Circulation provide meansto earnmoney
                                          may           a
to meetthe higher    level of cash requirements agricultural
                                                of              production,  to
offset risksaccompanying
      the                        decreased             of
                                           production the subsistence     crop,
andto compensate thedeclinein demand local agricultural
                    for                       for                  wage labor.
Circular migration  allows thepeasantproducer maintain
                                                to           primary residence
in therural area and to obtainincomefrom      bothfarm    and nonfarm  sources.
Circularmigration therefore
                    may            providehigher incomeat less riskthan  either
farm             or
     production permanent       migration and Stretton,
                                         (Fan               1980). Thisprelim-
inaryassessment an expanded
                  of               roleforcircular migration within less-devel-
oped countries supported recentresearch.Chapman and Prothero
                 is             by
summarize literature follows:"Circulation,
            this            as                        rather thanbeingtransi-
                      is                and
tional ephemeral, a time-honored enduring
      or                                              modeofbehavior,   deeply
       in
rooted a great    variety cultures foundat all stagesof socioeconomic
                           of         and
change" (1977:5).
     This articleconsiders                                     of
                          thesechallenges the acceptedtheory eco-
                                          to
                  and           in
nomicdevelopment migration greater                    the
                                         detail,within context anof
analysis patterns farm off-farm
       of         of     and         employment                and
                                                 and permanent cir-
cularmigration fourruralareas of Mexico. The nextsectiondetailsthe
              in
      of
nature agriculturalproduction each ofthefour
                             in               surveyareas,includingthe
cropsgrown marketed, use ofpurchased
           and          the                       improved
                                            inputs,        techniques,
         and
household hired   labor,and thelevelsof farm income.The following sec-
302                          Agrarian   Structure   and Labor Mobility In Rural Mexico


tionexamines allocation household
            the         of          labortooff-farm
                                                  activities,
                                                           including
circular permanent
       and                    and
                     migration, therole thatthecharacteristics the
                                                               of
regional
       agrarianstructure in this
                       play     allocation. lastsection
                                           The          derives some
generalconclusions          the
                  concerning relationships         in
                                           observed thefour   zones.

Production, income, and employment
in agriculture
Thisstudy basedon farm
           is                  data        in
                          survey collected theMixteca   Baja, Oaxaca;
Las Huastecas,San Luis Potosi;Valsequillo,
                                         Puebla, and theBajio, Guana-
juato (see map). The foursurveys             in
                               wereconducted 1974,covering year
                                                              the


Location    of the four survey areas


                   NUEVO
      ZACATECAS    LEON


                            TAMAULIPAS




                         UASTECAE            AS             0


 |)JA         L    j    ;      NX                       C
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                     303


1973,thefirst  three theCentro Investigaciones
                    by            de                  Agrarias thelastby
                                                               and
theauthor collaboration
           in              withseveralMexicanagencies.The emphasis          of
each survey on farm
             was         structure it affected
                                  as            farm off-farm
                                                      and          labor,with
thetopicofmigration   treated                           of
                             secondarily thecontext off-farm
                                         in                         labor.The
unitof analysis was thefarm  household,            all
                                         including members      wholive with
thehousehold   head,work thefamily
                          on                  or
                                        farm, contribute    money thefarm
                                                                   to
household.  The totalsampleconsisted 482 farm
                                       of           households.'
      Table1 summarizes majoragricultural
                          the                   characteristics thefour
                                                               of          sur-
veyareas.Together, spanthemajorforms agriculture
                    they                       of                   in
                                                             found Mexico
(themajor  omission                    of
                    beinganyexample thehighly       mechanized   agricultureof
theirrigated areasof theNorthwest). almost
                                     By                      of
                                                anymeasure development,
the MixtecaBaja, locatedin the mountainous      coastal regionof the stateof
Oaxaca, occupiesthelowerend of thesocioeconomic                   The
                                                       spectrum. area has
no largetowns,and transportation   within regionand to other
                                           the                       regions is
severely limited poor roads. Thereare few local opportunities non-
                 by                                                   for
agriculturallabor,andfarm  techniques  remain              as
                                              substantially they   werein the
pre-Conquest                                      end
              period.The Bajio occupiestheother ofthespectrum,          having
undergone  significant                          in
                                 modernization the1960sandrapidgrowth
                      agricultural
oftheurban   areasandinfrastructure the1970s.A variety commercial
                                   during                       of
crops,relying  heavily fertilizer other
                       on         and        purchased  inputs, now dominate
            in
agriculture thisregion.
      Anynotion a linear
                  of         progression  from            to
                                               traditional commercial     agri-
culturethat  maybe implied thecontrast
                            in             between MixtecaBaja and the
                                                     the
Bajio breaks  downwhenthecharacteristics theother regions exam-
                                            of          two          are
ined. Las Huastecasexhibits  manyaspectsof traditional    agriculture, re-
                                                                       with
lianceon family  laborand traditional         but
                                      inputs, subsistence     cropsare mixed
withcommercial   crops,and farm  incomes relatively
                                           are           high.Valsequillo,  by
         is
contrast, closelylinked                        and
                          with commercial semiurban
                               the                            economy theof
Pueblaarea, and agriculture partially
                            is          mechanized.   However,farm    incomes
are low formosthouseholds, corn,theprimary
                              and                    subsistence cropin Mex-
ico, dominates cropping
                the          pattern.
The Mixteca       Baja, Oaxaca

The MixtecaBaja is representative agricultural
                                  of                     in
                                                patterns thepoorest   and
mostisolated regions Mexico. The onlytwotowns thesurvey
                     of                             in          area,Jam-
iltepecand Pinotepa                                      and
                    Nacional,are on thecoastalhighway, transportation
even short distancesintothe mountainous          is
                                        interior extremely    limited.The
Centro Investigaciones
       de                Agrarias estimated 23 percent thepopula-
                                has           that           of
tionin thesurveyareais notlinked themajor
                                to          population  centers a roadof
                                                               by
anykind(Barbosa-Ramirez,   1976). Thereare three distinctpopulationgroups
in theregion-Blacks and Mestizosare foundin thenarrow       coastalregion,
whileindigenous groups  predominate theinterior.
                                    in             Forty-one        of
                                                             percent the
population theregion
           of           speaksan Indianlanguage.
      Agriculture practiced smallmountain
                 is          in                valleysand on thehillsides.
Most of thefarming under ejido system, whichland belongscollec-
                    is      the              in
tively themembers theejidal community cannot
      to             of                    and         (withcertainexcep-
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Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                             305


tions)be sold or rented. mostejidos in Mexico, the land is dividedinto
                              In
individual   plotsthat farmed
                        are          yearafter   yearby thesamehousehold. this   In
tropical  region,however,the slash-and-bum             technique    and heavy rainfall
quickly  exhaust thin
                   the      mountain   soils, and landmust leftbe      fallowforup to
tenyearsafter     onlyone or two years'harvest.         Therefore,   each ejidatariois
assigned newplotoflandto work
           a                              each year,with    plotsize varying  from   1.5
to 3 hectares,  depending thefamily
                             on                                            the
                                             laboravailabletoundertake arduous
taskof preparing land forplanting.
                     the
       The average    farm thesampleof67 consisted 2.8 hectares, which
                            in                               of               of
2.2 hectares   wereplanted corn, inbeans,0.8 in sesame,and0.3 in other
                              in       0.4
crops(thesumexceeding hectares to intercropping). average
                              2.8            due                     The           farm
marketed    only16 percent itsproduce.
                               of
       The agricultural   technology    employed theMixtecaBaja is primitive.
                                                    in
Households thezone spent
               in                  only75 pesos perhectare year(US $1.00 =
                                                                per
12.5 pesos at theexchange prevailing thetime)on fertilizer,
                                rate             at                         seeds,and
machinery     rental.The total   valueof agricultural           per
                                                        capital hectare,     consisting
primarily draft
             of        animalsand implements        such as hoes, amounted 907  to
pesos.
       The use ofprimitive                                              in
                                techniques poorlandis reflected thevalue of
                                             on
production hectare thesurvey-1,234pesos forall cropsand only958
              per          in
pesos forcorn.For comparison, Huastecas
                                      Las              produced    1,849pesos perhec-
tarein corn,and Valsequillo                                        be
                                  2,332 pesos. Whileit might expected          that  the
low valueofcornproduction hectare theMixtecaBaja wouldbe accom-
                                  per           in
paniedbylow monetary         expenses, factan averageof 560 pesos perhectare
                                         in
was spenton wages forhiredlaborand 75 pesos on other                 purchased  inputs,
yielding netreturn only323 pesos perhectare theproduction corn.
          a              of                                 in                 of
Low valuesofnetproduction          combined    with smallsize oftheaverage
                                                    the                             plot
to produce    annualfarm     incomesaveraging 2,639 pesos (or $211).
                                                   just
       The averagehousehold thesampleworked person-days year
                                   in                        172               per
on their land,representing                  of
                                two-thirds total     household               on
                                                                 laborinput and off
thefarm.In addition household
                          to                                   of
                                          labor,67 percent thefarms          hired  jor-
naleros (day laborers),     addingan averageof 68 person-days, bringtotalto
farm  laborinput 240 person-days.
                    to                     When   thesedataareviewedin light the  of
fact theaverage
     that               farm is only2.8 hectares, labor-intensive
                              size                        the                 nature  of
agricultural               in
               production thezone is evident.         The averagehousehold      applied
84 person-days itsownlaborand 37 person-days hired
                   of                                       of       labor,resulting  in
a totallaborinput 118person-days hectare
                      of                    per          cultivated. can be seenin
                                                                     As
Table 1, laborintensity cultivation MixtecaBaja farexceedsthat the
                            of               in                                   in
other  zones.
       In summary, MixtecaBaja conforms
                        the                            closelyto thecommon      percep-
tion of underdeveloped,        traditional  agriculture:  subsistence  crops produced
usingtraditional     inputs                     are
                             and techniques dominant;           farmincomesare ex-
tremely   low; and local employment        opportunities  are limited.  The population
 oftheregion impoverished: 1970censusshowsthat
                is                  the                             mostof theregion's
rural population in one-room
                    live                dwellings   withdirtfloors,    and, despite  the
306                          Agrarian   Structure   and Labor Mobility in Rural Mexico


         of
presence twotowns over10,000people,only10percent thehouseholds
                     of                                   of
have running water(Barbosa-Ramirez,    1976).
      Yetthesignificant       of
                       amount hired     laborthesefarms employ  does notfit
thecommonly   held image of traditional             two-thirds
                                         agriculture;         of thefarms
used hiredlabor,and forthesefarms,                           39
                                      hiredlaborrepresented percent     of
theirtotalfarm laborinput.Examination monthly
                                          of         labordata revealsthat
even in theslack months relatively
                        a           constant  proportion farm
                                                        of      laborinput
was hired. contrast,
          By          household farm  laborinput variedsignificantly sea-
                                                                   by
son,andin July exceededtotal
               it              farm            for
                                    laborinput all other   months. Thus,it
wouldnotappearthat   farm labordemand                         of
                                         exceededthecapacity thehouse-
holdlaborforce provide
               to         theseinputs internally.            of
                                                 Examination dataforthe
otherareas,andparticularly labordatafor MixtecaBaja, willdemon-
                           wage               the
strate pivotal
      the       rolethathiredfarm  laborplaysin theallocation household
                                                              of
laborbetween  farm and off-farm activities.

Las Huastecas,    San Luis Potosi

Las Huastecas,situated theslopesofMexico's eastern
                          on                                  rangeof mountains,
is a semitropical                                           in
                    regionthatreceivesadequaterainfall thewinter          months,
             crops
permitting to be grown          year-round          the
                                            without needforirrigation.      Corn,
         a
usually summer                    and
                     crop,coffee, sugarcane grown are                    the
                                                              throughout year.
Together,   thesecropsare planted 80 percent thecultivated
                                    on              of                 land. Live-
stockis also an important    agricultural          in
                                          activity thezone, butit is confined
             to
principally thelargeprivate      holdings.              de
                                            The Centro Investigaciones     Agrar-
ias limited survey ejidal farms thearea, because it was mainly
              its       to              in                                    con-
cernedwiththe labor allocationof peasantproducers. withmostejidal
                                                             As
          in
farming Mexico,eachplotis farmed           yearafter yearbythesamehousehold,
andas longas itis cultivated             the
                               regularly landcanbe passeddowntochildren,
        not
though sold or legallydividedintosmaller           plots.
       Despiteitslocation   alongtheold Pan American     highway,  only350 miles
from Texasborder, Huastecasis as removed
      the                 Las                                  the
                                                         from Mexicanmain-
stream is theMixteca
        as                                                   in
                          Baja. Thereareno sizabletowns theregion, the    and
1970censusshowed           50
                       that percent thepopulation
                                      of                spokean Indianlanguage
and 81 percent thelaborforce
                  of                was in agriculture (Barbosa-Ramirez,   1979).
                     in                          2
       Mostfarms thesamplewerebetween and 10hectares. a composite   If
ejidal farm    wereto be created       the
                                  from data, its7.1 hectares      wouldhave 2.4
hectares corn,0.8 hectares sugarcane,
           in                    in             and 1 hectare  evenlydividedbe-
tween  coffee all other
                and          crops.About3 hectares    wouldbe left   uncultivated,
someof which      wouldbe in pasture.  Thussubsistence   cropsoccupytwo-thirds
ofthecultivated fortheaverage
                   land                 household.2  Ninety          of
                                                             percent thehouse-
holdsgrewcorn,and only14percent theaverage
                                        of             household's   production of
thecropwas sold.
       Because ofthemuchhigher       valueof sugarcane coffee, statistics
                                                         and          the
on land use understate importance commercial
                         the               of              cropsto households   in
Las Huastecas.Corn,with                   per
                              production hectare      valuedat 1,849pesos, con-
tributed  onlyone-third thevalue of agricultural
                         of                                        on
                                                       production theaverage
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                     307


farm.Sugarcane     produced  9,680 pesos and coffee6,609 pesos per hectare.
The higher  valueforthecommercial       cropsraisedtheaveragevalue ofproduc-
tionperhectare 3,273 pesos, farexceeding
                  to                              that obtained farmers the
                                                                by         of
MixtecaBaja. Farmincomeswerecorrespondingly                    in
                                                         higher Las Huastecas,
averaging  16,816pesos per farm year,and only20 percent thefarms
                                    per                             of
generated  annualincomesbelow 5,000 pesos.3
      Bothhousehold     and totalfarm    laborinputs Las Huastecaswerethe
                                                      in
highest thefour
        of           zones. The averagehousehold      worked person-days
                                                              275             on
its parceland hiredworkers an additional person-days. significant
                               for                 52              A
            of
percentage thishighhousehold         laborinputwas contributed household
                                                                   by
members  other   thantheprincipal  farmer,  and, due to theyear-round   cropping
pattern,laborinputs    werespreadmoreevenlyovertheyearthanin theother
zones.
      Las Huastecasis a moreprosperous       agricultural thantheMixteca
                                                           zone
Baja despite fact
             the      thatagriculture practiced both
                                       as          in      zoneswouldbe classi-
fiedas traditional,  employing purchased
                                few              inputs              a
                                                         and devoting relatively
large percentage cultivated
                   of             land to production home consumption.
                                                         for
             in
Households Las Huastecaswereable to increase          farm  income devoting
                                                                   by          a
largeamount household
               of            laborto high-value,    labor-intensivecrops.Sugar-
cane required person-days hectare,
               149              per           whilecornemployed     only45 per-
son-days hectare.
         per            The former             a
                                     provided sourceof cash incomewithout
requiringmuchmonetary      outlay, whilethelatter   provided  muchofthesubsist-
ence consumption the household.The factthatthe value of agricultural
                     of
output relatively without
       was             high                  on
                                     reliance themarket hiredfor     labor,pur-
chasedinputs, foodwillproveespecially
                or                                        in
                                              significant explaining differ-
                                                                       the
ences between    off-farmhousehold    laborallocation Las Huastecasand the
                                                        in
other zones.

Valsequillo,    Puebla

Valsequillo,locatedin thesouthern ofthestate Puebla,is characteristic
                                part            of
of manyof thedensely   populatedruralareas of theCentral Plateau. Table 1
showsthere  were560 persons squarekilometer 1970,as compared
                            per                in                   with
39 in Las Huastecasand 26 in theMixtecaBaja. The zone, some 100kilome-
tersfrom cityofPuebla,is crossedby highways
          the                                    from  Mexico Cityto the
major coastal city of Veracruz,and containstwo medium-sized       towns,
Tecamachalco Tehuacan,
              and           whichprovide important linkswiththenational
economy   and a nonagricultural
                              sourceof employment local inhabitants.
                                                     for
The population primarily
                is         Mestizo, and the culture reflects
                                                           earlySpanish
domination.
               is
     Agriculture thepredominanteconomic         in
                                        activity thezone, employing
         of             The landis partially
56 percent thelaborforce.                          but
                                           irrigated, themajority of
farmshave onlyenough      to
                     water supplement                  for
                                       seasonalrainfall thesummer
corncropand cannotengagein multiple cropping.
     The averagefarm thesampleof 99 farm
                    in                     unitshad 6.1 hectares;
                                                                how-
               of
ever,sevenfarms over20 hectares           37        of
                                controlled percent thelandand 56
308                             Agrarian   Structure   and Labor   Mobility in Rural Mexico


      of
percent thevalue of agricultural      and
                              machinery implements. These large
farmswereprivately
                 owned;thesmallfarms werebothprivately
                                                     ownedand
ejidal.
       Corn is the majorcrop: 87 of the 99 households              grewcorn,and the
averagefarm               87
               devoted percent itslandto thetwosubsistence
                                      of                                   crops,corn
and beans. Whileonlyone-third thecorngrown theaveragefarm
                                       of                   on                     was
sold (Table 1), thehighpercentage         marketed        the
                                                    from larger       farms meant  that
almost                   of
        three-fourthsall cornproduction marketed. was               Thus agriculture  in
thezone was muchless subsistence           oriented thanin thetwoindigenous      zones
considered   earlier;  each farm  sold a larger                of
                                                  proportion itsproduction, a    and
fewlargefarms thebulkof their
                   put                                   on
                                             production themarket.
       Agricultural                in
                      technology Valsequillo also morecapital-intensive
                                                   is                              than
in theother   twozones. Tractors commonly
                                      are               used in preparing landfor
                                                                           the
planting,        the
           with smaller       farms  renting   tractor services       the
                                                                 from larger    farms.
In thestudy    yeartheaveragefarm          used 1,185pesos of purchased     inputs  (in-
cludinghiredlabor) per hectare         and had agricultural    capitalvalued at 1,798
pesos perhectare.     The average                                       in
                                    value ofproduction hectare Valsequillo,
                                                           per
however, only2,218pesos-less than Las Huastecas
           was                                   in                  becauseofthelow
value of corn,theprincipal       cropin theregion.
       Farmincomein Valsequilloaveraged21,487 pesos, higher                 thanin the
othertwo zones, but thisfigure heavilyinfluenced the highincomes
                                        is                        by
generated a fewlargefarms.
            on                        Sixty-four           of
                                                   percent thefarms       produced   in-
comes of less than5,000 pesos, and a sizable number              reported expensesex-
ceedingthegrossvalue of output.           This is especially  significant because only
monetary    expenesewereused in thiscalculation,                     the
                                                         excluding imputed       value
of household    labor,landrent,     and depreciation.
       Despitethelarger      farm size, total  farm  laborinputs theaveragefarm
                                                                   on
in Valsequillowereonly165 person-days: person-days household
                                                  78                of            labor
and 87 person-days hiredof       labor.Whilethelargefarms          account muchof
                                                                           for
thehighproportion hiredof       labor,hired    laborwas very              to
                                                                important themajor-
   of
ity agricultural     production           83         of
                                 units; percent thefarms           surveyed  usedwage
labor,andforthosefarms, proportion hired total
                               the               of       to       farm laboraveraged
53 percent.
       If laborinputs calculated hectare, differences
                         are              per          the              between Valse-
quilloand theother      survey  areasbecomeevenmoreevident.            Totalfarm  labor
      per
input hectare Valsequillo
                     in              was 37 person-days, thanless               in
                                                                        halfthat Las
Huastecasand one-third in theMixtecaBaja. Nevertheless, percent
                             that                                         55          of
                  in
thelaborinput cornwas hired           laborin Valsequillo,    whilehouseholds Las
                                                                                in
Huastecashiredonly15 percent thelaborin cornproduction.
                                      of                                   Mechaniza-
                  in
tion,primarily land preparation,                                         for
                                           appearsto have substituted household
laborrather   thanforhiredlabor.
       The higher     level of integration Valsequillointothemarket
                                              of                               system,
requiring  heavier ofpurchased
                    use                  inputs ofhired
                                                and           labor,does notappearto
have increased    agricultural  incomes themajority households.
                                            for              of               Mosthad
farm  incomes    wellbelowthosein Las Huastecas,a zone oftraditional           agricul-
ture.What    agricultural   modernization                   was
                                             accomplished a significant       decrease
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                           309


in householdfarm           thus
                laborinputs,         laboratthedisposalofthehouse-
                               freeing
                  uses.
hold foralternative

The Baj(o, Guanajuato

The Bajio is by farthemosturbanand commercially               developedzone of the
four surveyed   in thisstudy.   Mostwidely             for
                                               known itssilver      mines,theBajio
has long been one of the most important              agricultural areas of Mexico.
Throughout Spanishoccupation,
              the                         deep, fertile                         by
                                                         valleysoils irrigated the
Lermariver    provided   good yields bothsummer winter
                                      for                and         grain  crops,and
themenandmulesthat                 in
                           labored themines       offered nearby
                                                          a        market.   Later,the
Bajio becameknown the"breadbasket Mexico" and was themost
                         as                    of                              impor-
tantwheatregionof thecountry          untildisplacedduring 1950sby theirri-
                                                               the
gatedareas of thecoastalnorthwest. thatof Valsequillo,thepopulation
                                           Like
retains fewtracesof Indianbackground.
       Most economicactivity thezone is in agriculture, thearea also
                                   in                               but
contains  strong  industrial, commercial,     and  servicesectors.  The cityof Sala-
mancais thesiteofan important        refinery chemical
                                               and            complex,  whileCelaya
is themajor   townserving agricultural
                             the                        of
                                               industry theregion.     Transportation
is excellent,  and the survey     area is traversed the majorhighway
                                                      by                       linking
Mexico Cityand Guadalajara.In addition, citiesof Queretaro Leon in
                                                 the                      and
adjacent                are
          municipios undergoing          veryrapidgrowth.
       Prosperity notbenefited population
                   has                 the              equally.Indeed,themarked
and growing                                             of
               social and economicheterogeneity theregion             has been com-
mented in severalstudies.4 highdegreeofrural
         on                        A                        stratification,manifested
in widedisparities farm
                      in                              and
                               size, capitalization, farm       income,makesaver-
ages overall farms     meaningless.   Whilebothprivately     ownedandejidal farms
               in
are included thestudy,         whenfarm                         no
                                            size is controlled significant      differ-
encesemerge     between                      of
                           thesetwoforms landtenure.          The datashowthat      the
maindifferences     amongfarms between unirrigated theirrigated
                                    are             the             and
farms                the
       and,within latter        category,  between smallto medium
                                                     the                     farms and
thelargefarms.                                            in
                   Therefore, on the218 farms thissurvey grouped
                                data                                      are
intofour   categories farm
                       of        typeand size: farms     withless than25 percent     of
their                 (72                      size
      landirrigated farms); three categories irrigated
                                   and                         of           farms, 4.0
hectares less (42 farms); to 12.0hectares farms); over12hectares
          or                   4.1                   (84         and
(20 farms).While theseproportions not correspond
                                           may                     exactlyto current
patterns                      in
          of landuse found thesevenmunicipios                         the
                                                          comprising study       zone,
they representative themajortypes agriculture
     are                   of                   of                       in
                                                               practiced theBajio.
       Table 2 presents     data on thebasic characteristics farms thefour
                                                                of         in
categories. largeirrigated
             The                   farms essentially
                                          are                       enterprises,
                                                           capitalist             with
an averagevalue of agricultural       capitalper farm 357,827 pesos. Seventy
                                                         of
         of
percent these     farms   possessa tractor, contrast 26 percent themedium
                                             in          to            of
farms veryfewof thesmallor unirrigated
       and                                            farms.  Cropping   patterns also
differ farm
       by        size. A smaller   portion thelandofthelargefarms devoted
                                           of                               is
tocornandmoreto wheat                          two
                              andsorghum, highly           mechanized   crops.Yet,as
shown sorghum, valueofpurchased
        for            the                                          in
                                                 inputs hectare eachcropdoes
                                                        per
310                                    Agrarian   Structure    and Labor Mobility in Rural Mexico


notdiffer significantly  between  irrigated      of
                                           farms different   sizes, an indication
                 of
ofthesimilarity thetechnology                 on
                                    employed irrigated    land.Tractors,  owned
          are
or rented, used in many        phasesof agriculture, hybrid
                                                     and         seeds, chemical
fertilizer,
          fungicides,                                       on
                         and pesticidesare used regularly small and large
farms alike. If an ejidatariolacks theresources              to          use
                                                   necessary properly this
technology, rents landout,usually a largeprivate
             he       his                  to                        The
                                                             farmer. portion
ofthetotal valueofproduction     taken therenter
                                       by           varies      30
                                                          from to80 percent,
           on              that
depending theinputs he provides.                            of
                                            The prevalence landrental      makes
theeffective                                 in
              degreeof land concentration thezone even higher           thansug-
                          on
gestedby thestatistics land ownership.
      Incomesderivedfromlarge and medium-sized            irrigated        in
                                                                    farms the
Bajio werehigh,buteven on thesmallirrigated        farms they exceededthosein
thenextmostprosperous                                                of
                            zone, Las Huastecas.All but23 percent thefarms
in theBajio produced     incomesgreater   than5,000 pesos. However,theform
that income
    this          takesandthemethods                     it
                                         usedto produce arefardifferent      from
thosein Las Huastecas.Besidescommercial        crops,mostcornproduced the   in
                                                  and
Bajio is sold, evenby farms theunirrigated smallirrigated
                                in                                    categories.
       in
Farms Las Huastecasmanage generate to         relatively levelsofincome
                                                        high                   by
growing  high-value    cropswithout   spending muchmoneyon laborand other
purchased  inputs;         in                 a
                    farms theBajio employ capital-intensive       technology  and
have to producegood crop yieldsjust to breakeven on cash expenses.The
farmer  growing                                     on
                  sorghum wheatis dependent themarket fertilizer,
                             or                                     for
machinery, labor;forthesale of crops;and forpurchase mostneces-
             and                                                  of
sitiesof household    consumption. yearof theinterviews one of ade-
                                     The                         was
                                                                or
quaterainfall, earlyfrosts, fewlosses due to insects cropdiseases.
                no                and
But conditions notalwaysso favorable
                 are                           (cropsin 1976-79 suffered     from
adverseweather other
                   and         factors), even a partial
                                       and                 croploss can mean a
largeloss whenthe moneycosts of production high.It is reasonable
                                                    are                        to
assumethat highfarm
             the              incomes theBajio during
                                      in                 good yearsarerealized
at theexpenseof a larger     year-to-yearvariability,         the
                                                     although survey      datado
notpermit                  of
            examination thisissue.
FIGURE 1 Seasonal    pattern of household and hired labor on
medium-sized irrigated farms in the Baji*o
      40



      30

      25-

      20-

      15-

      10

       5
       0
            Jan     Feb    Mar   Apr     May      Jun    Jul     Aug    Sep    Oct   Nov    Dec
                  Hiredlabor              m            labor
                                               Household
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                                        311


TABLE      2   Basic      farm     characteristics:        the   Baj(o
                                    Farm category
                                                      Small              Medium       Large
                                    Unirrigated       irrigated          irrigated    irrigated
Characteristics                     (72 farms)        (42 farms)         (84 farms)   (20 farms)
Farmsize (hectares)                       17.4               3.4                7.8         55.8
Ejidal farms (percent)                    44                74                 93           10
Value of agricultural
 capitala(pesos)                    $34,542           $21,004            $59,266      $357,827
Value of purchased inputs
            in
 per hectare sorghum
 (pesos)b                              $862            $1,762             $2,104        $1,115
Land in subsistence crops
 (percent)                                74                30                 29           22
Shareof corn marketed
 (percent)                               84                95                 87            98
Farmincome(pesos)                    $6,830           $21,282            $36,682      $319,059
aAgriculturalcapitalincludesthe total value of fixedcapital(pumps,etc.) and the value of animals.
bPurchased inputs                           for
                 includeactualexpenditures fertilizer,            seeds, etc., butexcludesmachin-
                                                        herbicides,
         and hiredlabor.
ery rental




TABLE      3    Farm      labor:    the   Baji*o
                                    Farm category
                                                      Small              Medium       Large
                                    Unirrigated       irrigated          irrigated    irrigated
Item                                (72 farms)        (42 farms)         (84 farms)   (20 farms)

Householdfarmlabor                  116               38                  85           33
Hiredfarmlabor                       91               43                 102          726
Total farmlabor                     207               81                 187          759
Total labor per hectare              22               26                  25           15




      Complementing information Table 1, Table 3 presents
                      the            in                          data on
laboruse byfarm categories theBajio. Laborinputs hectare
                          in                      per        averaged 22
person-days year,by farthelowestof all thezones studied.Per hectare
            per
laborinput loweston thelargest
           is                    farms, which,of course,are theheaviest
usersof hiredlabor. These farms less laborper hectare
                                use                      thanthesmaller
farms becausethey growless ofthelabor-intensive corn.On theaverage,
                                               crop,
sorghum         21
         required daysoflaborperhectare,   wheat only10days,andcorn38
days. In addition,
                 household farm                           low
                                laborinputs relatively in all farm
                                             are
strata, particularly thesmalland largeirrigated
       but            on                           farms.
      Hired labor plays a pivotalrole in the labor-allocationdecisionsof
households theBajio. Figure1 showstheseasonalpattern
           in                                           ofhousehold  and
hiredlaboruse on themedium-sized  irrigatedfarms, largest mostrep-
                                                 the        and
resentative        in
           category thezone. Thesefarms   employ wagelaborin all months,
       the
despite factthat   household            in
                            laborinputs June   exceedtotal laborinputsin
all but two othermonths.  There are two complementary   reasonswhy the
312                          Agrarian   Structure   and Labor Mobility in Rural Mexico

household mayprefer use hiredlaboreven though could providethese
                     to                           it
inputs          First,highhousehold
      internally.                               in
                                    labor inputs Juneand July    corre-
spondto theperiodof weeding, activity which
                             an       in       women   and childrenmay
contributeequallywithmen;second,household   labormaybe regularly   em-
ployedin off-farm          throughout year,a proposition will be
                  activities         the                    that
examined thenext
         in        section.                    hired
                           However, is clearthat
                                  it                  labordoes notplay
a purely            role
        compensating inhousehold   laborallocation, making thediffer-
                                                           up
ence between seasonalfarm labordemand and household  laborsupply.
      This briefsurvey theagricultural
                         of                             of
                                              situation fourareas in Mexico
                             of
emphasizes importance separating potential
            the                             two                    of
                                                           effects agricultural
modernization. Agriculture   almostinevitably    becomesmorecommercialized;
hybrid seeds,fertilizer, machinery substituted moretraditional
                        and              are              for                  in-
puts and a greater                                    is
                    percentage crop production sold, linking farm
                                of                                      the
household  muchmorecloselyto themarket        economy.    Farmincomes   mayalso
rise,butonlyin regions  where  access totheimproved            and
                                                         inputs infrastructure
suchas irrigation notrestricted thelargefarms.
                  is                to
                      of                   is
      The separation theseconcepts important              because theyhave had
differenteffects theallocation household
                on                  of            laborin thesurvey    areas. The
relatively commercialization farm
          high                      of                  in
                                            production Valsequillo     and,espe-
cially,in theBajio appears havecauseda reduction farm
                            to                           in      laborinputs  and
a substitution hired household
              of       for             labor.Relianceon purchased      inputs and
marketed   production probably   also increasedthe year-to-year     variability in
farm          in
     income, effect    forcing  households seek additional
                                             to                 forms income
                                                                       of
to offset risk.
         this
      At the same time,higher     levels of farm   incomein theBajio and Las
Huastecassubstantially                          the
                        reduced riskthat household
                                  the                          wouldfailto pro-
ducea subsistence  levelofincome.Households thesezonescouldengagein
                                                  in
typesof off-farm  economicactivity wouldnotbe undertaken more
                                       that                            with
limited resources, theconsequences failure household
                  for                    of         for           survival would
notbe as great.Thesetwocomponents risk-incomevariability therisk
                                         of                           and
of falling below thesubsistence    level-will be seen to play a central   role in
             the
determining relationship      between   agricultural development household
                                                                   and
laborallocation.

Off-farm employment, income,
and migration
Table4 compares
              farm           incomeand laborin thefour
                  and off-farm                        zones.

The Mixteca   Baja, Oaxaca
Out of the259 person-daysworked theaveragehousehold theMixteca
                               by                     in
Baja, 88 person-days, 34 percent,
                   or                                income-produc-
                                wereappliedin off-farm
ingactivities. off-farm produced income 2,329pesos,bringing
             This       labor       an         of
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                           313

TABLE      4    Off-farm income and labor in the four survey areas
                       Mixteca Baja        Las Huastecas     Valsequillo       The Bajio
Item                   (67 households)     (98 households)   (99 households)   (198 households)a
Income(pesos)
   Farm                2,639               16,816            21,487            22,306
   Off-farm            2,329                4,211            12,293            12,257
   Total               4,968               21,027            33,780            34,563



Labor (person-days)
   Farm                  171                  275               78                    86
   Off-farm               88                  139              253                   101
   Total                 259                  414              331                   187



Off-farm labordays
 as jornalero
 (percent)                72                  100               63                   23
Averagenumber   of
 adultsper-
 household (over
 age 16)                   3.1                  3.3               3.7                 5.4
aExcludes20 households
                     possessinglarge irrigated
                                             farms.




totalhouseholdincometo the (still verylow) figure 4,968 pesos. Most
                                                      of
           in
households thesamplewerepoor and earnedclose to theaveragelevel of
household incomeforthezone. Thus wage incomeformed criticala        supple-
ment farm
      to      incomeformosthouseholds; percent all households
                                            69         of               en-
gagedsomeofthelaborattheir     disposalina gainfulactivityotherthanfarming
theirown parcelof land. Mostoff-farm    laborwas local agriculturalwage la-
bor,paying to 20 pesosperday. Seventy-seven
           15                                           of
                                                 percent theoff-farm  labor
dayswereemployed          the
                   within samemunicipio,a reflection thedifficulty
                                                          of             of
              in
transportationtheregion                        of
                          and theuniformity wages throughout zone.the
      As might expected a region
               be         in          with limitedincome-earning opportuni-
ties,permanent              is
               outmigrationa fairly   regular        43
                                              feature: ofthe75 municipios
in thelargerMixtecaregion  lostpopulation   between 1960and 1970(Aguilar,
1974; Butterworth, 1975), largely                       of
                                   due to the migration youngpeople to
                                             of
Acapulcoor Mexico City.Aboutone-fourth thehouseholds thesamplein
had members   working outsidethezone at thetimeof theinterview.     Perhaps
becauseofthis,           size
                household intheMixteca       Baja was thesmallest thefour
                                                                 of
zones,averaging  about5.3 persons,       3.1
                                    with oftheseover16yearsold. There
was no circular          to
                migration theUnitedStates,whichis notsurprising       given
               and
thegeographic cultural    distance            the            and
                                   separating twosocieties thelackof
resources finance journey, border
         to         the           the                 and
                                             crossing, thenecessary     job
search.:
314                          Agrarian   Structure   and Labor   Mobility in Rural Mexico

Las Huastecas,     San Luis Potost

Wagelaborplaysa less significant in Las Huastecas
                                     role                         in
                                                             than theother    three
zones. This is not surprising    since household    farm  labor inputand farm   in-
comesare relatively   high.During study
                                     the         periodoff-farm was 34 per-
                                                                 labor
centoftotal  household   labor,butmuchofthislaborwas in unpaidcommunity
servicestillcommon someindigenous
                       in                     regions Mexico. Few households
                                                      of
worked            to
        off-farm earnmoney, theincomecontributed off-farm
                                    and                           by          labor
is onlyabout20 percent total
                          of       household   income.The share off-farm
                                                                  of          labor
to totallabortendsto be higher households
                                    for              withgreater  numbers adult
                                                                           of
workers forhouseholds
         and                    withlowerfarm       incomes.The number daysof
workedin off-farm     labor is distributed   evenlyover the year,withmonthly
           in
variations totalhousehold        labordue almostentirely variations farm
                                                              to           in
laborinput.
      Mostoff-farm is agricultural, 63 percent thisoccursin the
                       labor                   and             of
municipioin which household
                     the             resides.None ofthehouseholds thesam-
                                                                        in
ple had members    whohad worked theUnitedStatesduring study
                                      in                            the       year,
despite proximity thezone to theborder.
        the             of                           Agricultural wages in thesur-
rounding  region, 64 pesos perday, exceededlocal agricultural
                  at                                                   wages of 31
pesos perday forworkin themunicipio, and households            whosemembers     en-
gagedin work   outside municipiotended invest
                        the                     to        moredaysin thisactivity
than households
     did              whosemembers      worked    locally.Thisdifference  probably
reflects less casual nature regional
        the                      of           jornalero labor;thehigher    costsof
travel and job searchare presumably        overcome higher
                                                      by         wages and longer
periodsof labor.In addition thissalariedlaborby persons
                                to                                  livingwiththe
household  headatthetime theinterview, households members
                             of                 18             had           work-
ingin another  area whohad sentremittances                the
                                                  during year,averaging       2,135
pesos per migrant   household.
      The pattern labor allocation
                    of                     thatemerges Las Huastecasis thus
                                                          in
heavily weighted   toward  intensive of on-farm
                                      use               labor,withless permanent
migration more
          but       regional  circular             and             than
                                       migration commuting intheMix-
tecaBaja. Earning   off-farm           is
                              income less critical mostofthehouseholds
                                                      to                         in
Las Huastecas,wherefarm        incomesare relatively    highand purchased    inputs
are keptto a minimum.      Most households able to earnsufficient to
                                                are                        cash
meettheir  minimal   needsby growing                 or
                                          sugarcane coffee a portion their
                                                               on           of
household   land.

Valsequillo,   Puebla

Valsequillohas been shownto be a morecommercial                zone than
                                                    agricultural
either Huastecasor theMixtecaBaja. But farm
      Las                                         incomesare low forthe
         of
majority households,     whilelevels of purchasedinputsare higher thanin
either thetwoindigenous
      of                    zones. Thiscreates needforoff-farm
                                             the                 income,
and much  lowerfarm              and
                      laborinputs a higher            of
                                            proportion hired  laborallow
households devotethemajority their
            to                   of                    labor.Households
                                         timeto off-farm
in Valsequillo          76
               allocated percent their
                                  of     work timeto wage laborduring the
survey period.
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                                    315

      The largefarms   cause theaveragesto understate importance off-
                                                      the            of
farm incometo themajority households Valsequillo.For the70 house-
                             of            in
holds withmorethanone-fourth their
                                 of      totalincomeearnedoff-farm,   farm
incomeaveragedonly4,180 pesos, and fourout of fivehouseholds       received
incomefrom    wage labor.
      Off-farm  laborfortheaveragehousehold    was dividedbetween   agricul-
turalwage laborand a wide variety unskilled
                                    of          employment,  including con-
struction domestic
          and          labor.Of theaveragehousehold's   totalof 253 person-
days of off-farm  labor,63 percent was employed agriculture.
                                                  in             Workers in
nonagricultural occupations  worked moredays per yearand earneda higher
averageincome, pesos perday,as opposedto 37 pesos perdayforagricul-
                 48
turallaborers.
      Onlyabout20 percent off-farm occurred
                             of        labor                 the
                                                      outside municipio.
Households  whosemembers     worked other
                                    in      municipiosdid nottend record
                                                                  to
moreworking    daysthan  thosewhosemembers    worked entirelywithin mu-
                                                                    the
nicipio, possibly          the
                 reflecting goodtransportation   network,which  makeslocal
travelcomparatively   easy. In addition earning
                                       to         wage incomelocally,ten
households  receivedremittances  fromtemporary permanent
                                                   and            migrants,
averaging  6,966 pesos per migrant.  None of thesemigrants   workedin the
UnitedStates.

The    Bajlo,   Guanajuato

Table 5 summarizes off-farm
                   the         incomeand labor forthe 218 households
         in
surveyed theBajio. Wageincomewas a significant         of
                                                portion totalhouse-
holdincome all butthelargest
            for               category farms.
                                      of      Two-thirds thehouse-
                                                        of
holds in the sampleengagedin wage labor,and forthesehouseholdswage

TABLE       5   Household    income    and   labor:     the   Baj(o
                              Farm category
                                               Small                  Medium       Large
                              Unirrigated      irrigated              irrigated    irrigated
Item                          (72 farms)       (42 farms)             (84 farms)   (20 farms)
Income (pesos)
   Farm                        6,830           21,282                 36,082       319,059
   Off-farm                    9,386            6,879                 11,552        20,512
   Remittances                 1,299            2,136                  1,705
   Total                      17,515           30,297                 49,339       339,571
Labor (person-days)
   Farm                          116                   38                85            33
   Off-farm                      100                  110                90           132
   Total                         216                  148               175           165
Off-farmlabor days as
jornalero (percent)              29                   25                 15
       of
Percent jornalero labor
 workedin
   Municipio                     64                   72                 60
   Mexico, othermunicipios       16                                       7
   UnitedStates                  20                   28                 33
316                                    Agrarian   Structure   and Labor    Mobility in Rural Mexico

income  was between and44 percent total
                     26                  of                            were
                                                 income.Remittances also
important thethree
          to          smaller             of
                               categories farm,    with morethan   one-fourth of
the householdsin these categoriesreceivingremittances          averaging5,936
pesos.
      Agricultural wage laboris a muchless important                 of
                                                         component off-farm
laborin theBajio thanin theother     zones becauseof thediversified   economy.
Householdswithlargeirrigated       farms recorded  highwage incomesbecause
theirmembers  often heldfull-time    positions professionals in commercial
                                              as               or
enterprises.
      Perhaps moststriking
              the                              of
                                 characteristichousehold    laborintheBajio is
itslow absolute amount:   household                           in
                                      laborforall categories theBajio aver-
aged only183 person-days household,
                            per              compared   with331 days in Valse-
quillo,414 daysin Las Huastecas,    and 259 daysin theMixtecaBaja (see Table
               in
4). Households thetwoindigenous         zones worked   moreon-farm in the
                                                                     than
Bajio, whilethosein Valsequilloworked       moreoff-farm.             the
                                                           Certainly higher
incomes  from farm  production theBajio wereinstrumental reducing
                                 in                              in          the
need forwage income,butthefactthattwo-thirds thehouseholds this
                                                      of                  in
zone engaged off-farm indicates importance supplementing
             in           labor           its            in                 farm
income.
      The seasonality on-farm off-farm revealstheroleplayedby
                      of           and           labor
off-farm laborin totalhousehold     labor allocation.If off-farm  labor were to
vary inversely farm
              with                                   that
                         labor,thiswouldindicate thehousehold           subordi-
natedits off-farm laborto farm    labordemands.Figure2 showsthat        monthly
off-farm did notvarymuchforthemedium
         labor                                               of
                                                    category irrigated   farms,
mostrepresentative the averagefarm the sample. Thus
                    of                     in                     off-farm labor
played an independent   role  in totalhouseholdlabor allocation;households
workeda rather   constant            of
                           amount timeoff-farm         each month,   and during
months highfarm
        of           laborinputs    they                            to
                                         hiredlaborto enablethem continue
working theseactivities
         in                 (see Figure1).

FIGURE 2 Seasonal     allocation of household on-farm and off-farm
labor for medium-sized irrigated farms in the Baji'o
-: 35

      30

      25
      25


      20
      20


      15-

 -1   10




            Jan     Feb   Mar    Apr     May      Jun   Jul     Aug       Sep   Oct   Nov    Dec
                         labor
                  Off-farm                           labor
                                               On-farm
Kenneth    D. Roberts                                                                        317

       Circular           in
                migration theBajio was morecommon            thanin any of the
 other zones studied.                      of
                     Data on thelocation household      members    indicate that
 about40 percent the622 malesof working livedapart
                  of                           age                   the
                                                                from house-
 holdhead. Overhalfofthesewerein thesamevillage,buta significant        number
 werealso foundin thelocal citiesof Celaya and Salamanca(7 percent),          in
 MexicoCity(3 percent), in theUnited
                         and               States(5 percent). Thesemencould
 have beenengagedin either             or
                               circular permanent               but
                                                   migration, thefactthat
                  a
 theymaintained relationship      withthe household either
                                                     by          sending remit-
 tancesor helping  withfarm                  the
                               worksupports thesis    that  theywereprobably
 absentonlytemporarily.
       Surveyrespondents     were asked to approximate number days
                                                          the           of
         by
 worked household                 as
                       members agricultural             in
                                                laborers different    locations.
 Table 5 shows thatthe UnitedStateswas the mostfrequent          destination for
jornalero laboroutside themunicipio of residence.
                        of
       Table 6 presents data on the differences  between  households   thathad
 members   whohad worked theUnited
                            in            Statesand thosethat not,exclud-
                                                               did
 ing the largeirrigated farms,   whichsentno members the UnitedStates.
                                                         to
 Thesetwogroups notsignificantly
                   are                  different respect themajoreco-
                                                 with         to
 nomicvariables-farm    size, farm   income,purchased  inputs hectare,
                                                               per          off-
 farm income,or off-farm    labor;however, greatinterest,
                                             of                 households  that
 sentmigrants theUnitedStateshad an averagelaborforce
               to                                              (malesage 16 or
 more)thatwas 46 percent     larger thanthosethatdid not,a difference is that
 statistically         at
             significant the.001level. The implication that larger
                                                         is      a       house-
 hold laborforcepermits diversification incomesourcesthatoffsets
                          a                 of                               the
 increased riskof migration theUnitedStates.
                              to
       Thisanalysis            that
                    indicates circular              to
                                           migration theUnited     Stateswould
 onlybe undertaken households
                     by                withmultiplesourcesof income,which
 would not be too dependent thisriskyincomesourcealone. Moreover,
                                on
             in
 households theBajio are larger      thanthosein theother   zones.

TABLE      6    Mean values       of selected   variables   for households            with
and   without     members       working   in the   United   States:      the   BajCo
                                           Households       Households         Level of
                                           with             without            significanceof
                                           US labor         US labor           differencein
Variable                                   (N = 30)-        (N = 168)a         mean valuesb
Farm size (hectares)                             8.4             10.7          .586
Farmincome(pesos)                          $21,131          $22,515            .936
Value of purchased  inputsper hectare
 (pesos)                                    $1,409             $923            .590
Off-farm income(pesos)                     $10,138           $9,708            .935
Remittances (pesos)                         $4,173           $1,198            .001
Off-farm wage labor (person-days)               75               52            .245
Education(years)                                 9.1              8.7          .810
Male laborforce(persons)                         4.1              2.8          .001
aExcludesthe 20 large irrigated
                              farms.
      of
bT-test pooled variance.
318                           Agrarian   Structure   and Labor   Mobility in Rural Mexico

      It maybe postulated households theBajfoarelarger
                        that           in                  because farm
incomeis higher,           more          to
                 permitting members sharein theincomefrom          farn
production.6 incorporation adultmembers theextended
             The             of               into           household,
combined   withlow farmlaborrequirements,  allows one or morehousehold
          to
members workalmostentirely       off-farm.          the       of
                                         Enjoying security theex-
tendedhouseholdand a sharein farm    production,  householdmembers  can
leave thecommunity longperiodsof time.Totalhousehold
                    for                                    incomeis in-
creasedby their            and
                remittances, thelarger   extended  householdpermittedby
higher farm  incomeenablesthemto choose theserelatively  morerisky  off-
farmalternatives. contrast, Valsequillo,farmincomesare lowerand
                  By          in
there fewer
     are                    in
               adultmembers eachhousehold, that failure obtain
                                               so    the      to      a
job in a moredistantlocationcould have seriousconsequences.

Discussion
The datapresented thisstudy
                      in            cast doubton some of thedistinctions       often
perceived  between   traditional modern
                                 and          agriculture on thecommon
                                                           and                  ex-
planations rural
            for      outmigration.  Households each ofthefour
                                                  in                   survey zones
worka significant             of
                    amount thetimeoff-farm use hiredlaborto permit
                                                    and
them continue engagein off-farm
      to           to                      economic    activitiesevenin months    of
heavyfarm    laborinputs.  Thusoff-farm is nota residual absorbs
                                           labor                   that         part
of the difference   betweenhouseholdlabor supplyand farmlabor demand.
Rather, household
        the              makessimultaneous     decisions  concerning allocation
                                                                      the
offarm  laborbetween     household hired
                                    and        labor,and theallocation house-
                                                                          of
holdlaborbetween      on-farm off-farm
                                and           labor.
      This conclusion important
                          has            implications the validity simpler
                                                        for              of
theories relating agricultural  development migration. off-farm
                                              and              If          employ-
ment  does notvaryinversely      withhousehold    farm   employment farm
                                                                       and       in-
come, this calls into questionthe assumption           thata lack of agricultural
development    triggers increased circular migration, that
                                                        and     circular migration,
in turn, leads to permanent              as
                               migration urbanopportunities       expandand rural
opportunities  declinerelative thesize of therapidly
                                 to                          growing  population.
      Two potential    consequences theconcept agricultural
                                     of               of              development,
increased  commercialization higher
                               and          farm incomes,   havebeen shownto be
important          in
           factors thedetermination household
                                          of             laborallocation.Agricul-
turalcommercialization,     looselydefined the substitution purchased
                                             as                   of             in-
puts, commercial    crops, and marketed                    for
                                             production traditional        farming,
unequivocably causeda declinein totalfarm
                has                                                in
                                                      laborinputs theBajio and
Valsequilloand in theportion theseinputs
                                  of               contributed the household.
                                                                 by
However,only wherelocal agricultural         conditions favorable, in the
                                                          are             as
Bajio, can smallfarms     raise farm  incomesby participating thisimproved
                                                                  in
technology.   Agricultural development notinvariably
                                          is                 associated with higher
farm income.   In Valsequillo, modern   technology toproduce
                                                     fails            adequatelev-
els ofincome mostfarms servesonlytoreduce
               for             and                          household  laborinputs.
In contrast, farm incomes relatively in Las Huastecas
                             are           high                    becausethesoil
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                             319

and climate  permit   high-value   cropsto be grown      withminimal     levels of pur-
chasedinputs.
       Agricultural  development,              its
                                      through potential       impact farm
                                                                      on        income
andthecommercializationagriculture, hasbeenshown havedifferent
                              of              also                    to
effects thetypes riskassociated
        on             of                   with totalhousehold     incomeand there-
     on
fore theallocation household
                        of              labortodifferent   off-farm  activities.Higher
levelsof purchased    inputs                                            for
                               and thesubstitution commercial subsistence
                                                     of
            link
production thehousehold             closelyto themarket     economy,     increasing  the
fixedmonetary     costs of production thepotential
                                          and                               of
                                                               variability farmin-
come. Higherfarmincomes,on the otherhand, decreasethe riskthatthe
household   will earnan incomebelow subsistence           level.
       These concepts                                             of
                         maybe used to explainthepatterns household               labor
allocationobserved the fourzones. In the MixtecaBaja, primitive
                       in                                                         tech-
niqueson poorsoil yieldinsufficient incomes thebarenecessities a
                                          farm            for                       of
smallhousehold; withand       fewlocal opportunities wage labor,young
                                                         for                       peo-
ple oftenmigrate                   to
                   permanently citiesin which                    of
                                                      networks migrants        from  the
local area live. Farmincomesare too low to finance riskier   the          alternative of
circularmigration otherareas, especiallyto the United States. In Las
                      to
Huastecas,  farm  production            a           high
                                yields relatively income                 few
                                                                  with purchased
inputs.The necessity wage laboris reducedby minimal
                         for                                           household   cash
requirements   resulting                                          of
                           fromthe low commercialization agriculture,               and
heavyinputsof householdlabor leave littleopportunity extended     for             stays
awayfrom farm.
            the         Clearly,  farm  income  playsan important in determin-
                                                                      role
ing migratory  patterns thesetwo zones of traditional
                          in                                    agriculture.   Werethe
analysisto stophere,it might concluded
                                     be             thatrising   farm  incomeswould
decreasemigration.
                      of
       The patterns household          laborallocation   observed Valsequilloand
                                                                    in
theBajio providelittlesupport thisconclusion.
                                      for                    Both of thesezones are
muchmorecommercially          developed    thanthetwoindigenous        zones, yetfarm
incomesare low in the former highin the latter.
                                      and                        The monetization     of
production thesezones has increased
            in                                 boththerelative                   of
                                                                   importance off-
farm  laboranditsdiversification.      However,   circular  migration notan impor-
                                                                       is
tantcomponent theoff-farm
                  of                  labormix in Valsequillo,whilein theBajio
circular migration,   especially theUnitedStates,is quitecommon.
                                   to
       The function farm
                       of        incomein reducing riskof obtaining
                                                        the                      below-
subsistence  income central an explanation thedifferences patterns
                      is          to                 of                   in          of
laborallocation   between    thesetwo zones. Whilehouseholds           mustworkoff-
farm Valsequilloto earnan adequateincome,they
      in                                                      cannot          to
                                                                      afford under-
takethesubstantial   investment                        a
                                   neededto support circular                and
                                                                  migrant therisk
thathe will not quicklyobtaina job and send remittances.               Therefore,  they
worklocallyforlongperiodsin a variety occupations.
                                                 of                 Householdsin the
Bajio use higher  levelsoffarm              to
                                    income support      circular migrants,   generating
moreoff-farm     incomeand partially       offsetting riskassociatedwiththeir
                                                      the
greater               on
        dependence monetary            sourcesof income.The totalportfolio in-    of
come-producing     activities theimportant
                              is                consideration;   higher   farm incomes
320                              Agrarian   Structure   and Labor   Mobility in Rural Mexico

       the
permit relatively     riskyalternative UnitedStatesmigration,
                                       of                         whilethis
activityproduces  highcash incomeand mayreducethevariability thetotal
                                                                 of
incomeportfolio.7
                                               for    are
      Theseconclusions ofcoursetentative, they based on assump-
                         are
tionsabouttherelative             of
                        riskiness farm    incomeand particular typesof off-
farm               in
     employment thefourzones, and on incomplete        data on labormigra-
tion.Yetthedataon agrarian   structure patterns off-farm allocation
                                      and        of         labor
indicateclearly      the
                 that simplepreconceptions often
                                              that      guidepolicydo not
apply. Circular            has
                 migration emerged the Bajio as an integral
                                        in                        partof a
complex            to
         response agricultural   change, whileother       of
                                                   patterns labormobility
in the otherzones resulted   fromtheir  particular
                                                 circumstances. orderto
                                                                In
understand response, was necessary specify impact agricultural
            this          it              to       the        of
changeupon purchased     inputs, crop composition seasonality,
                                                  and             marketed
production, hired labor,farm income, household
                                     and           composition. Whileother
             of
explanations thedata mayproveequallyuseful,it is clearthatno general
       of
theory a mobility              can
                     transition be appliedto a region          an
                                                       without examina-
tionof its agrarian structure.


Notes
Thispaperis basedon a report  prepared the ing betweenhouseholdand hiredlabor and
                                       for
US Department Stateand theEmployment householdoff-farm
                of                                                  employment.    Migration
and Training  Administration, Department emerges this
                              US                       in     dataas thelocation off-farm
                                                                                  of
of Labor, entitledAgrarian Structureand La-    employment   during year1973,or through
                                                                   the
bor Migration in Rural Mexico: The Case of                 sent
                                               remittances by a household       member  from
Circular Migration of UndocumentedWorkers employment        elsewhere,  allowingcircular  mi-
to the U.S. The research  was a collaborative gration be explicitly
                                                      to              examined.
      of
effort theInstitute LatinAmerican
                      of                Stud-     I was thedirector theBajfo fieldwork,
                                                                     of
ies, The University Texasat Austin, the whichwas a collaborative
                    of                and                                       of
                                                                          effort theCentro
Centrode Investigaciones    Agrarias,Mexico de Investigaciones     Agrarias,the Comisi6n
City,andbenefited   greatlyfrom assistance Coordinadora Sector
                                the                          del                      the
                                                                        Agropecuario, In-
of GustavoTreviiioElizondo and discussion stituto    Nacionalde Investigaciones    Agrfcolas,
withIna Dinerman.                              and the Ford Foundation. sample of 218
                                                                            A
                                                     in
    1 The fieldwork theMixtecaBaja, Oa- farms the seven municipios (a geographic
                     in
                                                       of
xaca; Las Huastecas, Luis Potosf; Val- division governmental
                      San            and                                 authoritysimilar a
                                                                                          to
                                                      in
sequillo,Pueblawas conducted 1974as part county theUnited
                               in                                   States)ofthesurvey   area
of a project examining conditions em- was selectedand data collectedon farm
                        the           of                                                 pro-
ployment ruralMexico; the resultswere duction,income, costs, and labor, and on
          in
          in
published three   volumes  (BarbosaRamfrez, householdoff-farm       employment.    The labor
1976, 1977, 1979). They were conducted    by data wereexhaustive:                   the
                                                                     theyincluded num-
the Centro de Investigaciones    Agrarias,a ber of days worked each household
                                                                   by                  mem-
Mexican organization    witha long history of ber,as wellas by hired   labor,machinery,   and
independent  research Mexicanagricultural animalson thehousehold
                       on                                                  plot,broken down
problems.  The data utilizedin thisstudyon by crop, month,and type of labor activity
thesethreeareas are based on randomsam- (planting,       weeding,etc.), and off-farm    labor
ples, within farm size categories, theorigi- for each householdmember occupation.
                                 of                                           by
                   of
nal questionnaires landholding                                of
                                  households. The definition thehousehold       encompassed
Extensive  data werecollectedon agricultural all persons  living     the
                                                                 with household     headwho
            and
production agricultural     labor,distinguish- contributed incomefrom     off-farm sourcesto
Kenneth   D. Roberts                                                               321

thehousehold workedon the household's the Bajfo as a polarized agricultural
               or                                                                zone;
land. Thus migrants, circular permanent, Baring-Gould
                             or                          (1974) emphasized growing
                                                                          the
              if
werecaptured they   either       homeand gap between ejido community modern
                          returned                      the                and
worked sentremittances.
        or                                 agriculture; Dfaz-Polanco Montandon
                                                       and             and
    2 Subsistence               separately saiditis a "zone where
                  cropsaredefined                                         modem
                                                                 relatively       agri-
foreach zone to accountforregionaldiffer-  cultureand a dynamicmoderncommercial
encesin consumption  habits, themajority sector combined
                            but                  are          with peasantcommunities
in each zone consists cornand beans. The at variouslevelsof development"
                     of                                                     (1977:9).
percent cultivated in subsistence
       of          land               crops      5 Arizpe,in herstudy migration
                                                                      of           from
thatappearsin Table 1 and thetextis thepro-       Mexico to theUnitedStates,wrote,
                                              rural                                 "in
portion cultivated
        of           land in these crops to   Oaxaca, Youngdid findthatthepoorestmi-
totalcultivated foreach household,
              land                    aver-         first
                                              grated,            children,
                                                         expelling        thenas whole
aged overall households. maydiffer
                          It          from    households, practically went
                                                         but         all      onlyso far
thatcalculatedfrom dataforthecomposite
                  the                         as Mexico Cityor Oaxaca City" (1981:643).
farm                                by
     because thelatter influenced farm
                       is
size.                                            6 Dinerman, a studyof US migration
                                                               in
    3 The valueofproduction each cropis fromtwo villages in Michoacan, Mexico,
                              for
                      in
derivedconsistently thefoursurvey       areas notedthat"migration                   if
                                                                    tends maintain, not
                                                                         to
by multiplying   total production the unit
                                  by          create,a preference a particular
                                                                   for            formof
priceofthat  portion which was sold,orifnone householdorganization, extended
                                                                       the         house-
was sold,bytheunitpricereceived nearby
                                    by        hold" (1981:76).
       in
farms similar     circumstances.Farmincome       7 A relatively risky asset mayreducethe
includes sumof thesevalues forall crops riskof a portfolio assetsby havingits re-
          the                                                    of
less their      costof production, other turns
           direct                  plus            uncorrelated thereturns theother
                                                                with           of
sourcesof farm   incomesuch as sale of dairy assets (Markowitz,   1959). In thissense, US
products,  eggs, or cattle.Imputedcosts for migration  might reducetheriskof thehouse-
itemssuch as capital,householdlabor, and hold income portfolio,       although the returns
landare notincluded.                          from thisactivity             be
                                                                alone might expected    to
   4 Barbosa-Ramirez     (1973) characterized be quitevariable.


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