Repeat Migration and Cumulative Remittances as Mechanisms for Wealth Inequality in Mexico

Filiz Garip, Harvard University

Migrant remittances are one of the largest sources of external finance for many developing countries in the world. To evaluate the distributional impact of these flows in origin communities, prior research focused on how migrants’ selectivity by wealth varies with migration prevalence in a community. This study advances prior work by demonstrating that the selectivity pattern changes over an individual’s migration career. Based on data from 17,531 household heads in 119 Mexican communities surveyed by the Mexican Migration Project, the findings show that first-time migrants are selected from poor households, which, over repeated migration trips and cumulative remittances, reach levels of wealth to surpass households without migrants. This dynamic leads to increasing wealth disparities between households with and without migrants.

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Presented in Session 61: Migration Impacts in Sending Countries