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Initial determinants of Mexican mass migration

2018 New Researcher Poster Prize, Economic History Society
2018 Poster Prize, International Economic History Association

Media coverage: The Long Run

About 100 thousand Mexican laborers crossed the border every year during the 1900s. This figure remains at similar levels today, making the Mexico-US migration the most intense and persistent labor migration of the twentieth century. While there is extensive literature addressing the Mexico-US migration in recent times, our knowledge about its initial characteristics is still limited. Exploiting novel micro data consisting of individual border crossings from 1906 to 1908, this paper examines the initial determinants of Mexican emigration at the local level. First, I estimate gross emigration between Mexican municipalities and US counties, obtaining 892 migration corridors or municipality-county pairs. Second, I evaluate diverse push and pull factors that may explain differences in the scale of migration across corridors. Preliminary results suggest that differences in market potential and Mexican immigrant networks in the United States were the main pull factors rather than the US-Mexico wage gap. Differences in living standards within Mexico were the main push factor. Despite their importance for the Mexican economy, railways had a limited effect on the migration decision.


Identification strategy for the effect of railways on migration.

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