Andres Villareal. Explaining the Decline in Mexico-Migration: The Effect of the Great Recession

Monday, November 17, 2014 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Explaining the Decline in Mexico-U.S. Migration: The Effect of the Great Recession

The rate of Mexico-U.S. migration has declined precipitously in recent years. From 25 migrants per thousand in 2005, the annual international migration rate for Mexican men dropped to 7 per thousand by 2012. If sustained, this low migration rate is likely to have a profound effect on the ethnic and national-origin composition of the U.S. population. I examine the origins of the migration decline using a nationally representative panel survey of Mexican households. The results support an explanation that attributes a large part of the decline to lower labor demand for Mexican immigrants in the United States. Decreases in labor demand in industrial sectors that employ a large percentage of Mexican-born workers, such as construction, are found to be strongly associated with lower rates of migration for Mexican men. Second, changes in migrant selectivity are also consistent with an economic explanation for the decline in international migration. The largest declines in migration occurred precisely among the demographic groups most affected by the Great Recession: namely, economically active young men with low education. My results also show that the reduction in labor demand in key sectors of the U.S. economy resulted in a more positive educational selectivity of young migrants.

AndrĂ©s Villarreal is Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland-College Park and Faculty Associate at the Maryland Population Research Center. He is currently engaged in a research project funded by the NICHD to study changes in Mexican migration over the past decade. He also studies race and ethnicity, crime and violence, and social inequality in the context of Latin America. Villarreal’s work has appeared in the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and Demography, among other places.