Continuities and Changes in the Processes of Mexican Migration and Return

Published date01 July 2019
Date01 July 2019
212 ANNALS, AAPSS, 684, July 2019
DOI: 10.1177/0002716219857565
and Changes in
the Processes of
Migration and
857565ANN THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMYContinuities and Changes in Mexican Migration and Return
This article examines continuities and changes in the
prevalence and determinants of first migration and
return between Mexico and the United States. The
results show a dramatic decline over time in the likeli-
hood of migrants’ making a first trip. The empirical
design distinguishes processes affecting migrating
cohorts from those emanating from period conditions,
paying particular attention to changes in educational
selectivity and the legal status of the flows. The defini-
tion of cohort and period corresponds roughly to
changes in U.S. migration policy and the American
economy. We find that the likelihood of return migra-
tion also declined in conjunction with period conditions
that are related to border enforcement. The drop in the
likelihood of return was particularly sharp for undocu-
mented migrants, and, over time, return flows increas-
ingly consist of documented migrants. The implications
of these findings for immigration policy in the United
States and for the incorporation of returnees in Mexico
are discussed.
Keywords: immigration; return migration; selectivity;
legal status; cohort; period
Despite being a prominent feature of migra-
tion flows, return migration has not
received the detailed attention it deserves. This
lack of attention is applicable both to historical
European flows to the Americas, as well as to
contemporary migration from Latin America to
the United States and other foreign destina-
tions. Understanding the dynamics of departure
Emilio Parrado is the Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor
of Sociology and chair of the Department of Sociology
at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses
on Latinos in the United States, particularly issues
of immigrant adaptation and new settlement areas,
the determinants and consequences of international
migration for health and family outcomes in sending
and receiving regions, and the social demography of
societal change in Latin America.

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