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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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Impact of Migration on Families in Mexico

Throughout the world, people are leaving one place and going to another in search of a better job. This has been happening forever, but there has been one important change that has occurred over the past few years--the rapid rise in the ability to send electronic transfers of money back home. This has shifted the nature of migration from single young men (and women, too, but men have historically predominated) who leave home because there are no jobs, to married men who seek a temporary job elsewhere because wages are higher and they can send money back to the family and thus increase the family's overall well-being. Or does it? That's the question asked by Jenna Nobles of the University of Wisconsin in a paper just published in the journal Demography titled "Migration and Father Absence: Shifting Family Structure in Mexico." She pulled together several sets of surveys in Mexico to show that the rise in migration from Mexico to the United States has coincided with a huge increase in the number of children in Mexico who are being raised without their father being present.
The results here indicate that at least 4 % of children under 15 in Mexico—1.3 million children—have fathers living in the United States at present; twice that many are expected to experience father’s departure to the United States at some point before age 15. More than 6 million children will experience a father’s domestic migration by age 15. Given the well-documented effects of family stability for children’s later-life out- comes, one link between migration and socioeconomic change in origin communities will operate through the parenting investments made in the next generation.
The study is largely descriptive, in terms of defining this emerging change in family structure. It is too soon to know for sure whether the remittances from an absent father will offset the personal cost to children of not having a father around. Nonetheless, it is an important trend that bears close scrutiny as we head into this new territory of married migrants leaving their families behind.

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