This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is the Demographic Fit With Mexico Ending?

Damien Cave of the New York Times has pieced together evidence that the net flow of undocumented migrants from Mexico to the US may have dropped to zero or even have reversed itself. That does not mean that no one is crossing the border heading north, but the flow is considerably lower than it used to be, and may be matched by people heading back to Mexico from the US. Elizabeth Aguilera of the San Diego Union-Tribune has also pulled together a similar story. 

The evidence comes collectively from the latest round of data collected by the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University (which interviews migrants in Mexico about their experience in the US), the calculations of undocumented migration by the Pew Hispanic Research Center, which are based especially on the Current Population Survey, by Border Patrol apprehension data, and by organizations such as the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC, San Diego which regularly track data from selected communities in Mexico.

The reasons for the decline represent a type of "perfect storm". The "Great Recession" is an obvious factor, along with the greater cost of crossing the border as a result of increasingly tighter border security, the increased Federal deportation of undocumented immigrants, and the increasingly hostile legislation passed in a variety of states over the past few years. At the same time, as I (and my son and co-author, Greg Weeks) have been noting for some time, the long-term decline in the birth rate in Mexico (accompanied in the US by the birth of children of immigrants) is closing the gap in the age structures of the two countries that has been filled by immigrants for the past several decades. If this really is the end of the demographic fit between the two countries, it happened even more quickly than we would have predicted largely because of the unexpected impact of the Great Recession.

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