, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 1335–1360 | Cite as

Repeat Migration and Remittances as Mechanisms for Wealth Inequality in 119 Communities From the Mexican Migration Project Data

  • Filiz Garip


To evaluate the distributional impact of remittances in origin communities, prior research studied how migrants’ selectivity by wealth varies with migration prevalence in the community or prior migration experience of the individual. This study considers both patterns; it examines selectivity separately in low- and high-prevalence communities and for first-time and repeat migrants. Based on data from 18,042 household heads in 119 Mexican communities from the Mexican Migration Project, the analyses show that (1) first-time migrants in low-prevalence communities come from poor households, whereas repeat migrants in high-prevalence communities belong to wealthy households; and (2) higher amounts of remittances reach wealthy households. These results suggest that repeat migration and remittances may be mechanisms for wealth accumulation in the study communities. Descriptive analyses associate these mechanisms with increasing wealth disparities between households with and without migrants, especially in high-prevalence communities. The study, similar to prior findings, shows the importance of repeat migration trips, which, given sustained remittances, may amplify the wealth gap between migrants and nonmigrants in migrant-sending communities. The study also qualifies prior findings by differentiating between low- and high-prevalence communities and observing a growing wealth gap only in the latter.


Migration Remittances Wealth inequality Mexico 



This research was funded by the Clark and Milton Funds at Harvard University, and a Junior Faculty Synergy Semester Grant from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. I thank Fatih Unlu for suggesting some of the methodology of the paper, and Jeff Blossom at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard for compiling the geographic data. I am grateful to Peter Azoulay, Cedric Deleon, Frank Dobbin, Roberto Fernandez, Andrew Foster, Stine Grodal, Alya Guseva, Emily Heaphy, William Kandel, Yaojun Li, Nancy Luke, Peter Marsden, Sigrun Olafsdottir, Robert Putnam, Kenneth Wachter, Arnout van de Rijt, Mary Waters, and Bruce Western for helpful advice.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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