Engines of immigration: Stocks of human and social capital in Mexico

Julie A. Phillips, Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective. We seek to measure stocks of migration-specific human and social capital available to Mexican immigrants and to quantify their effect in promoting out-migration to the United States. Methods. We use data from the Mexican Migration Project to measure the share of people in western Mexico who have been to the U.S., who are socially connected to someone who has migrated to the U.S. in the past, and who are socially connected to someone living in the U.S. at the time of the survey. Results. We find that 40% of household heads from this region - and 20% of all persons of labor force age - have been to the United States at least once in their lives. In addition, 25% of household heads have an immediate family member currently living in the United States; 61% have a member of their extended family living north of the border; and 37% report knowing a friend in the U.S. at the time of the survey. All told, 73% of household heads in western Mexico are socially connected to someone living north of the border, and 81% at least know someone with U.S. experience. Conclusions. These extensive stocks of human and social capital lead to very high probabilities of out-migration over the course of a Mexican's life and suggest that migration to the United States may continue even as economic pressures to migrate diminish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-48
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Volume81
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences

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