Return Migration to Mexico: Does Health Matter?

Erika Arenas, Noreen Goldman, Anne R. Pebley, Graciela Teruel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


We use data from three rounds of the Mexican Family Life Survey to examine whether migrants in the United States returning to Mexico in the period 2005–2012 have worse health than those remaining in the United States. Despite extensive interest by demographers in health-related selection, this has been a neglected area of study in the literature on U.S.-Mexico migration, and the few results to date have been contradictory and inconclusive. Using five self-reported health variables collected while migrants resided in the United States and subsequent migration history, we find direct evidence of higher probabilities of return migration for Mexican migrants in poor health as well as lower probabilities of return for migrants with improving health. These findings are robust to the inclusion of potential confounders reflecting the migrants’ demographic characteristics, economic situation, family ties, and origin and destination characteristics. We anticipate that in the coming decade, health may become an even more salient issue in migrants’ decisions about returning to Mexico, given the recent expansion in access to health insurance in Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1853-1868
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography


  • Health-related emigration
  • Mexico
  • Return migration
  • Salmon bias
  • Selection


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