Migration to and from Latin America

Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the course of history, Latin America has been very strongly shaped by migration. The aboriginal peoples arrived around 11. 000. years ago, and by 1492 had expanded to around 54. million people. The modern history of the region begins in 1492 with the arrival of the Spanish followed closely by the Portuguese, whose germs decimated the indigenous population and transformed Latin America into a region of European immigration. The inflow of European immigrants was modest during the colonial era, especially in comparison to the importation of African slaves, but immigration expanded after independence during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and Argentina and Brazil eventually became immigrant receiving societies on a par with Canada and the United States. In the postwar period, only Argentina persisted as an immigrant receiving society, but its inflow now came from neighborhood countries in South America rather than Europe. Migration to the United States began in Mexico in the early twentieth century and spread to Puerto Rico in the 1940s and then to Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. Migration to the United States from Central and South America dates mainly from the 1980s, but at the same time many migrants also began moving to Europe, especially from South America. Much of the migration to Europe has dried up since the Great Recession, but migration to the United States continues. Whereas much of the migration from Mexico was unauthorized during the period from 1965 to 2008, undocumented Mexican migration appears to have ended owing primarily to Mexico's demographic transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Europe
  • Immigrants
  • Immigration
  • International migration
  • The United States
  • Undocumented migration


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