Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 103–124 | Cite as

Education, race/ethnicity and out-migration from a border city

  • Leticia FernándezEmail author
  • Cheryl Howard
  • Jon Amastae


Through a combination of high immigration rates and differential fertility, communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have become overwhelmingly Hispanic. El Paso, Texas, located across the border from Ciudad Juárez, forms part of the world’s largest urban center on a land border. El Paso ranks among the bottom 10 large U.S. metropolitan areas with the smallest proportion of college-educated adults, causing concerns among policy makers regarding its prospects for economic development. Local discourse suggests that low educational levels result from the out-migration of educated groups that find higher wages or better jobs elsewhere. Two sources of data are used to explore the association between education, race/ethnicity, and out-migration: the five percent 2000 PUMS and a survey conducted among students at the University of Texas at El Paso. We find that between 1995 and 2000 a large net outflow of non-Hispanic whites and blacks of all educational levels took place. Among Mexicans and Mexican Americans, college graduates were more likely to leave compared to high school graduates, but place of birth and language preference influenced these odds. Student data confirmed that non-Hispanics are significantly more likely to plan to leave compared to students of Mexican origin or descent. Among Mexicans and Mexican Americans, those who prefer English and mentioned jobs and lifestyle as the most important factors in choosing a place to live and work were more likely to have plans to leave upon graduation. Policy implications are discussed regarding the future of border communities.


Border demography Brain drain Mexican immigration Non-Hispanic out-migration Internal migration 



This research was completed with the support of the University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center, where the author was appointed as an NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow. The authors wish to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions for improving an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leticia Fernández
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Cheryl Howard
    • 1
  • Jon Amastae
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Center for Inter-American and Border StudiesUniversity of Texas at El PasoEl PasoUSA
  3. 3.ArlingtonUSA

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