Discovering Diverse Mechanisms of Migration: The Mexico-US Stream 1970-2000

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Migrants to the United States are a diverse population. This diversity, identified in various migration theories, is overlooked in empirical applications that describe a typical narrative for an average migrant. Using the Mexican Migration Project data from about 17,000 first-time migrants from Mexico to the US between 1970 and 2000, this study employs cluster analysis to identify four types of migrants with distinct configurations of characteristics. Each migrant type corresponds to a specific theoretical account and becomes prevalent in a specific period, depending on economic, social, and political conditions in Mexico and the US. Around the period when each migrant type becomes prevalent, a corresponding theory is also developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-433
Number of pages41
JournalPopulation and Development Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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