OECD Territorial Reviews

ISSN :
1990-0759 (online)
ISSN :
1990-0767 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/19900759
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This series offers analysis and policy guidance to national and sub-national governments seeking to strengthen territorial development policies and governance. These reviews are part of a larger body of OECD work on regional development that addresses the territorial dimension of a range of policy challenges, including governance, innovation, urban development and rural policy. This work includes both thematic reports and reports on specific countries or regions.

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OECD Territorial Reviews: Puebla-Tlaxcala, Mexico 2013

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Author(s):
OECD
Publication Date :
21 Oct 2013
Pages :
236
ISBN :
9789264203464 (PDF) ; 9789264203457 (print)
DOI :
10.1787/9789264203464-en

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Encompassing 39 municipalities in two states, Puebla-Tlaxcala is the fourth-largest metropolitan zone in Mexico. Over the past five decades, the region has successfully attracted major national and international firms, building its reputation as both a manufacturing hub specialising in auto production and one of Mexico’s most important centres of higher education. Yet it also faces important challenges. Compared to other large Mexican metropolitan zones, Puebla-Tlaxcala has a disproportionate share of individuals with low skills, which could represent a bottleneck to future growth. Urban sprawl is another challenge with important economic, environmental and social consequences. Puebla-Tlaxcala's urban footprint expanded nearly eight times faster than its population over the past three decades, contributing to inadequate service provision and high levels of social marginalisation, particularly in the metropolitan periphery. To ensure that the region remains competitive and grows sustainably over the long term, this review recommends (i) improving workforce and economic development outcomes, particularly by raising the level of low-skilled workers; (ii) guiding urban growth more effectively to tackle urban sprawl and improve serve delivery; (iii) and addressing governance challenges by building capacity in the public sector and transitioning to forms of metropolitan governance.

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    Foreword and Acknowledgements

    Across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), globalisation is increasingly testing the capacity of regional economies to adapt and exploit their competitive advantages, while also offering new opportunities for regional development. More and more, authorities at all levels of government are rethinking their strategies for building competitive, sustainable, inclusive urban areas. Central governments can no longer assume the full responsibility for development policies. Effective relations between different levels of government, as well as greater participation by citizens, firms, education and research institutions, and other non-state actors are required in order to improve the delivery and quality of public services.

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    Acronyms and abbreviations
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    Executive summary

    Encompassing 39 municipalities in 2 states, Puebla-Tlaxcala is the 4th-largest metropolitan zone in Mexico. Among its principal assets are a strategic location between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz, a manufacturing-based regional economy led by a resilient and vertically linked automotive sector, and its position as one of country’s centres for higher education. Together, these competitive advantages have helped the region weather multiple economic crises and continue to attract major economic opportunities. To ensure that Puebla-Tlaxcala remains competitive and grows sustainably over the long term, however, several critical policy challenges need to be addressed.

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    Assessment and recommendations

    Puebla-Tlaxcala is a dynamic, fast-growing metropolitan region with significant opportunities ahead. Comprised of 39 municipalities in 2 states, the Puebla-Tlaxcala metropolitan zone is the 4th largest in Mexico. The regional economy is responsible for three-quarters of the state of Puebla’s gross domestic product (GDP). The city of Puebla is the region’s economic engine, accounting for over half of the metropolitan zone’s population and over 60% of its GDP. The region’s demographic growth, averaging 1.9% annually between 2000 and 2010, has outpaced the national and OECD averages. Its strategic location, between Mexico City and the port of Veracruz, makes it a key player for regional and international economic activity and trade, where exporting activity has been facilitated by numerous free trade agreements (FTAs), including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA).

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    Economic, urban and social challenges in Puebla-Tlaxcala

    This chapter assesses the major economic, urban and social challenges facing Puebla- Tlaxcala. The first section examines demographic and economic trends of Puebla- Tlaxcala, illustrating the region’s dynamism relative to other OECD metropolitan areas. The second section characterises the labour market and business environment. The third section assesses Puebla-Tlaxcala’s performance as regards human capital, skills, educational infrastructure and innovation. The fourth section examines urban and environmental challenges facing the region, with a particular look at urban sprawl, housing, transport, air quality, water and waste management. The fifth section assesses evidence of social marginalisation and territorial inequalities in terms of access to public services and infrastructure. Finally, the sixth section outlines key governance challenges facing the region, pointing to capacity gaps at subnational level, administration and institutional fragmentation, and outdated and ineffective co-ordination tools.

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    Policies for economic and workforce development in Puebla-Tlaxcala

    This chapter assesses two major assets of the Puebla-Tlaxcala metropolitan zone – its higher education base and resilient, vertically integrated manufacturing sector – and considers potential obstacles to the region’s future growth. In particular, the chapter addresses the following questions: What strategies can facilitate greater regional co-operation for economic development? How can Puebla-Tlaxcala transition from a largely deal-driven, jurisdiction-bound approach to economic development toward a regional economic development strategy to guide policy making and investment decisions? How can workforce development policies be better tailored to address the region’s large share of low-skilled workers? What can be done to improve the business environment to facilitate growth and ease the transition from informal to formal labour? Finally, how can university resources be mobilised to achieve these objectives?

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    Policies to guide urban growth more effectively in Puebla-Tlaxcala

    This chapter begins by assessing the evidence of urban sprawl in Puebla-Tlaxcala, followed by an analysis of its causes and consequences and concludes with a series of potential strategies for better managing urban growth. Factors in Puebla-Tlaxcala contributing to the development of urban sprawl include, inter alia, rising incomes, lower transport costs, federal housing policies and limited municipal capacity for land-use planning. Meanwhile, its consequences are evident in terms of increased traffic congestion, higher costs for infrastructure provision, inadequate service delivery, increasing environmental pressures and significant intra-metropolitan territorial inequalities. Strategies for guiding urban growth more effectively include: i) linking opportunities for land use and transport; ii) tackling the vacancy problem; iii) developing tools to balance the costs and benefits of development; iv) building municipal capacity for planning and land-use management; and v) applying a metropolitan lens to urban planning challenges and solutions.

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    Governing the Puebla-Tlaxcala metropolitan area

    Successful implementation of many of the recommendations proposed throughout this review – improving workforce and economic development (Chapter 2), better managing urban growth (Chapter 3) or improving service delivery (Chapters 3 and 4) – will require Puebla-Tlaxcala to improve governance arrangements. This chapter is divided into two sections. The first section examines capacity challenges in the public sector and proposes strategies for: i) bolstering revenue-raising capacities of municipalities; ii) limiting the effects of recurrent political and administrative upheavals; and iii) building more effective public administration. The second section assesses the key policy obstacles to metropolitan governance arrangements in Puebla-Tlaxcala and recommends ways in which regional leaders could: i) create operational legitimacy through the development of a strategic metropolitan vision; ii) create operational legitimacy via opportunities for metropolitan co-ordination; and iii) create institutional legitimacy by operationalising planning at the metropolitan scale.

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