The Substitutability of Internal and International Migration at the End of the Era of Mass Mexican Migration

Joshua Wassink , Office of Population Research, Princeton University
Fernando Riosmena, University of Colorado Boulder

The long-standing era of mass Mexican migration to the United States ended more than a decade ago. We use municipal-level census data (1990-2010) and individual-level panel data (2005-2017) to test the hypothesis that Mexicans in communities receiving high numbers of U.S. return migrants resort to internal migration as an alternative economic mobility strategy to U.S.-travel. Using difference-in-difference models, we find that an increase in community-level return migration from the United States predicts an increase in the future rate of internal migration. Similarly, an increase in municipal return migration increases individuals' relative risks of future work-related internal migrations. We also explored differences in selection into internal versus international migration. Whereas Mexicans with little schooling were most affected by U.S. enforcement, we found that their more educated peers are paradoxically more likely to substitute internal migration, reflecting differential returns to education at home versus abroad.

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 Presented in Session 78. Internal Migration