This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume which is about the history of living standards in Mexico during the period from 1850 to 1950. This volume is divided into two main sections. The first section traces the origins of poverty alleviation, including social welfare programs from the mid-nineteenth century until 1950 and the second analyzes the evolution of standards of living. This volume examines whether the evolution of welfare institutions favored the perpetuation of inequality across social classes and highlights the fact that there was never a period in the history of Mexico as a modern nation in which poverty and inequality were not major issues.
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