Women’s Schooling and Employment Gains During the Great Mexican Migration Era

Jenna Nobles , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kelsey Wright, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Julieta Perez Amador, El Colegio de México

Between 1965-2005, the share of women in Mexico completing secondary schooling increased from 1% to 20%. The percentage of women in managerial positions tripled. These long-run gains are attributed to multiple factors, including the disproportionate departure of men from migrant-sending regions. In high migration areas, the male-to-female sex-ratio among young adults fell to 75:100 over the four-decade period. Then, abruptly, the 2008 recession reversed net migration between Mexico and the U.S. We study how women’s socioeconomic outcomes changed as the number of men in their communities increased. We use binational data spanning 1990-2015, and test robustness with instruments measuring U.S. employment conditions. We find that the post-recession increase in the relative presence of men is associated with cross-cohort reductions in Mexican women’s schooling, employment, and earnings. The magnitude of post-recession changes are sizeable, raising questions about the normative persistence of opportunities created for women by the disproportionate absence of men.

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 Presented in Session 251. Population Structure and the Labor Market