, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 3-30

Migradollars: The remittances and savings of Mexican migrants to the USA

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Abstract

In this article, we use new data from 22 communities to estimate the total flow of dollars back into Mexico as a result of migration to the United States. Our estimates include remittances sent while working abroad and money brought back on return trips; they incorporate transfers by temporary as well as permanent US workers; they include money transferred by legal as well as illegal migrants; and they include funds sent or brought by household heads as well as other family members. We estimate that US$ 24 million in ‘migradollars’ flowed into the sample communities during the survey year. In some places, the flow of US money equalled or exceeded the value of locally earned income. When generalized to all of Western Mexico, our sample suggests a regional flow of US$ 1.5 billion; and when our data are inserted into an estimation model developed earlier by Lozano Ascencio, we estimate the total flow at US$ 2 billion for Mexico as a whole. Although most of this money was spent on consumption, investments in productive activities were significant, and directly or indirectly, we conclude that migradollars play an extremely important role in Mexican economic production.

This article is based on a paper, presented at the University of Chicago, 8 October 1993.