Culture of Mexican Migration / 981

The Culture of Mexican Migration: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis*
WILLIAM KANDEL, U.S. Department of Agriculture DOUGLAS S. MASSEY, University of Pennsylvania

Many field investigators have observed the evolution of a “culture of migration” in certain Mexican communities characterized by a high rate of out-migration to the U.S. Within such communities, international migration becomes so deeply rooted that the prospect of transnational movement becomes normative: young people “expect” to live and work in the U.S. at some point in their lives. Males, especially, come to see migration as a normal part of the life course, representing a marker of the transition to manhood, in addition to being a widely accepted vehicle for economic mobility. International migration is cultural in the sense that the aspiration to migrate is transmitted across generations and between people through social networks. In this article, we develop a formal theory of the culture of migration and test it using a special data set collected by the first author as well as data from the Mexican Migration Project. We show that children from families involved in U.S. migration are more likely to aspire to live and work in the U.S. and that these aspirations, in turn, influence their behavior, lowering the odds that they will continue in school, and raising the odds of their eventual outmigration to the U.S.

Field investigators working in a variety of settings have described the emergence of a “culture of migration” in Mexican communities characterized by long-standing and high rates of international migration. Within such communities, people come
* This research was supported by a dissertation fellowship from the Population Council and a fieldwork training grant from the Mellon Foundation. We would also like to thank the Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, for administrative support in Mexico, and to Adriana Jiménez Sánchez and Magaly Eleazar Cortés of the Universidad de Guadalajara for their dedicated research assistance. An earlier draft was presented at the 1999 annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago. Direct correspondence to William Kandel, Economic Research Service, U.S.D.A, 1800 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC, 20036–5831. E-mail: © The University of North Carolina Press Social Forces, March 2002, 80(3):981-1004

982 / Social Forces 80:3, March 2002

to valorize foreign wage labor positively, along with the behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles associated with it. Foreign remittances enable poor households to selfinsure against risks to their economic well-being and to elevate material standards of consumption. At the same time, foreign savings provide a source of investment capital that can raise household productivity as well as income. Given a greater ability to purchase both consumer and capital goods, migrants come to evince a widely admired lifestyle that others seek to emulate, and international migration comes to be seen as a tractable and accessible strategy of upward social mobility. As migratory behavior extends throughout a community, it increasingly enters the calculus of conscious choice and eventually becomes normative. Young people who grow up and come of age increasingly expect to migrate internationally in the course of their lives. For young men, especially, migration becomes a rite of passage, and those who do not attempt it are seen as lazy, unenterprising, and undesirable as potential mates. In communities where international labor becomes fully integrated into the local culture, young men seeking to become adults literally do not consider other options: they assume they will migrate in preparation for marriage and that they will go abroad frequently in the course of their lives as family needs and personal circumstances change. The culture of migration has figured prominently in field studies of Mexican migration to the U.S. Wiest (1973) speaks of migration as creating a “culture of dependency” and Reichert (1979, 1981) describes the emergence of a “migrant syndrome.” Mines (1981) elaborates the development of a “community tradition of migration” and Massey et al. (1987) speak of the “social process of international migration.” Goldring (1992) and Rouse (1992) and others describe the “transnationalization of social space” in migrant communities, and Alarcón (1992) refers to the “northernization” of sending towns. According to Smith (1998, 1999), migrant-sending communities are “transnational localities” where absent migrants are “always present” in local social life, politics, and culture. Drawing on these and other case studies, Massey and associates (1998) identify the culture of migration as a key link in the broader social process known as the “cumulative causation” of migration. Studies of Mexican popular culture have documented the degree to which U.S. migration has become integrated into a variety of Mexican art forms. Durand and Massey (1995) present examples of migratory themes in retablo paintings, which are votive works left as offerings to religious icons throughout Mexico. Fernández (1983) and López (1995) document the treatment of migratory themes in corridos, popular folk ballads avidly followed by Mexico’s lower classes. Espinosa (1999) shows how Catholic religious life has been adapted to the reality of mass migration, with regular religious processions organized in honor of los ausentes, special masses dedicated to the migrant parishioners, the adoption of new patron saints to achieve village celebrations more in tune with the rhythms of seasonal migration, and special ministries, undertaken by village priests, to the migrant diaspora.

The Cultural Transmission of Migration The essence of the culture-of-migration argument is that nonmigrants observe migrants to whom they are socially connected and seek to emulate their migratory behavior. labor. migration is more prevalent . the greater should be the likelihood that a young person aspires to work and/or live in the U. as captured in the following equation: U..S. relatives. Seeing friends. and controls refers to a set of personal. involve indicates the degree of family involvement in international migration.S. thus increasing the odds that they actually do leave school to enter the transnational migrant workforce. and the greater the prevalence of migratory behavior in the broader community. (1) where U. and neighbors dramatically improve their socioeconomic circumstances through U.. asp = f (+involve.Culture of Mexican Migration / 983 Although many facets of the culture of Mexican migration have been described qualitatively. +prevalence. If the existence and transmission of such values lead to the cumulative causation of migration over time. no study has yet documented the existence of this culture or its effects quantitatively. migration. We thus have no model of the specific mechanisms by which migratory attitudes spread through cultural channels to affect behavior. and community characteristics that are held constant in estimating the effect of the former variables. family.. and hearing returned migrants selectively relay stories of thrilling adventures and cosmopolitan experiences north of the border. (see Taylor 1987). prevalence is the prevalence of migratory behavior in the community. we expect young people holding aspirations to live and/or work in the U. and how they subsequently influence individual behavior to perpetuate out-migration to the U.S. The greater the involvement of a young person’s family in U.S. Since education historically has brought high returns for occupational attainment and income within Mexico. and those from communities where U. those from families more involved in international migration.S. We then draw on a unique source of survey data to document the existence of a culture of migration and confirm its connection to migratory behavior. aspirations indicates an aspiration to live or work in the U. controls).S.S. we outline a theory stating how migrant-supporting values are spread between people and across generations in Mexico. then we expect people who aspire to migrate internationally should make fewer investments for success in Mexico. The associated signs indicate the direction of the expected effects. but little marginal benefit to undocumented migrants working in the U.S. using representative survey data.S. young Mexicans acquire aspirations that lead them psychologically to invest less in Mexico and more in the prospect of life and work north of the border. In this article.S.

worry about the elevated risks of abandonment that are inevitably associated with male migration. strongly appeals to men. women encounter new opportunities for employment and autonomy. +involve. controls) (2) where educ asp indicates an aspiration to get an additional year of education. +U.S. labor migration tends to be initiated by men working through male-dominated social networks.. and new avenues of mobility for themselves and especially their daughters (Hondagneu-Sotelo 1994). and who do not aspire to additional schooling in Mexico. but dislike the short-term increase in work and responsibility. migration not only changes intramarital . not by women (Cerrutti & Massey 2001). that the cultural dynamics of international migration may be substantially different for males and females.S. –prevalence.S.S. controls) (3) where Pr(migration) refers to the probability of out-migration to the U.. for example. Recent work by Hondagneu-Sotelo (1994).984 / Social Forces 80:3. March 2002 to display a significantly lower likelihood of aspiring to continue schooling in Mexico: educ asp = f (–U.S.. labor does not carry the same allure for young women. opportunities for economic autonomy. asp. Hirsh (2000). –involve. Finally. U. mig is a dichotomous variable that equals 1 if the respondent migrates within some reference period and 0 otherwise. women are much more ambivalent. Whereas work in the U. the United States offers a means of overcoming patriarchal restrictions prevalent in Mexican culture and society. women apply increasing pressure to join their husbands on trips north of the border.S. documents how U. and the effect of these values on the ultimate likelihood of out-migration to the U.: Pr(migration) = f (–educ asp. and resent the loneliness they are expected to endure. is an important rite of passage for young men.S. offering them freedom. and of achieving a more egalitarian marriage. however. the effect of those transmitted values on educational aspirations in Mexico. asp. the departure of husbands and brothers puts additional burdens. +prevalence. psychological and material. They appreciate the potential material benefits. we expect that those who aspire to migrate the U. Once in the U. For women. and the signs once again indicate the direction of the expected effects.S. Whereas work in the U.S. and the other variables are defined as before. of attaining power and autonomy within the family.S. however. As men become more involved in international migration. Indeed. the other variables are defined as before. Hagan (1994) and Espinosa (1998) suggests. Together these constitute a structural equations model describing how cultural values supportive of international migration are transmitted interpersonally and intergenerationally. should display a higher likelihood of leaving for the U. of reducing the burdens of housework and child rearing.S. As a result. on wives and daughters left behind. and the lure of unknown adventures.

061 students representing a hypothetical population of about 230. nearly 15% of the state’s student population in grades 6–12. particularly on topics related to employment.S. We therefore expect U. Likewise. we only surveyed students from schools that existed within the community itself. a Mexican state long known for its high rate of out–migration to the U. we selected five representative neighborhoods and included all the schools mentioned within our survey. privacy.000 inhabitants. aspirations for women to be manifest more in the desire to live than to work in the U. In agrarian settlements. In the cities of Zacatecas and Jerez. Grasmuck & Pessar 1991). aspirations. Interviewing occurred during the 1995–96 academic year and was carried out by the first author with the assistance of two trained Mexican .S. who project their aspirations more in terms of working north of the border. ethnographic accounts illustrate how gendered perceptions of settlement versus return diverge significantly. leverage for shared housework. and marital relations (Goldring 1996.. Students were surveyed in the capital city (Zacatecas). (see Durand. requiring us to consider the possibility of significant interactions between gender. The survey focused on students in grades 6 through 12. the cultural transmission of migration is likely to be a gendered process.Culture of Mexican Migration / 985 bargaining power of women but also provides a context for shifting the basis of marital relationships from traditional gendered spheres of mutual respect toward more intimate relations of shared trust. We supplemented this sample with a purposive survey of upper-level technical schools and senior high schools located in different neighborhoods of the cities. Thus.000 persons. and the prevalence of international migration varied from minimal to extensive. in contrast to males. Pessar’s (1999) review of migration and gendered relations cites numerous other benefits to women from migration. Massey & Charvet 1999). Data and Methods Our data come from a student questionnaire that was applied to random samples of school classrooms in Zacatecas. yielding a pool of respondents who were old enough to make up their own minds and sufficiently literate to fill out a survey questionnaire. This design yielded a usable sample of 7. a medium-sized town (Jerez). and behavior. including control over budgeting and domestic decision making. and approximately two dozen smaller agrarian settlements. Population sizes ranged from about 350 to 150.S. Our respondents ranged in age from 9 to 23 years and were sampled in numbers equal to their proportions at each grade level within each community. and access to economic resources outside of the household. We selected agrarian settlements with sufficiently large populations to support at least secondary schools and which were located within easy commuting distance of major cities so that all respondents had roughly equal access to secondary educational facilities.

the approximate amounts of time he or she spent studying. Students were given a twenty-minute introduction to the questionnaire that included assurance that their responses would be confidential. The questionnaire also ascertained whether the student’s father had been to the U. Aspirations to Migrate In the course of completing the questionnaire. some of it undoubtedly undocumented. The latter group includes many young people who left school precisely to migrate to the U. In the end. and engaging in paid labor. students answered two questions about aspirations with respect to the U. migration within their families and communities. and briefly reviewed each survey as it was turned in to screen for missing data and obviously incorrect answers. are self-selected for economic resources. which monitored classroom conditions. and interest in schooling.S.S.S.. The instruments were self-administered under the supervision of the research team. the extent of U. doing unpaid domestic chores. Because surveys contained many questions about behavior in the previous week. if included in the sample. Since the survey contained potentially sensitive questions about parental migration. migratory experience within the respondent’s nuclear and extended families. After the completed questionnaire was turned in. To ensure that the youngest respondents would be able to understand and answer all the questions. marital status. Selection bias in our sample is unavoidable but actually works to our advantage. insisted on silence. academic ability. only 30 questionnaires were discarded. The other four pages asked about the student’s educational history. March 2002 fieldworkers. Questions were substantially revised after each trial. education. would show greater susceptibility to the influence of U. at any time during the prior year. and who.: “Would you like to go to the United States some day to work?” and “Would you like to go to the United States some day to live?” Table 1 presents the percentages of respondents answering “yes” to these . Since all students. and migratory aspirations. job location.S. particularly those at higher academic levels. with Mondays reserved for the youngest primary school students. the questionnaire was pretested in one rural and two urban primary schools prior to its full implementation. they were generally conducted at the beginning of each week to allow for better recall. occupational. Regular classroom teachers remained throughout the period to ensure cooperation. students were instructed not to write their names on the questionnaires. they are less likely to be influenced by migration compared to the broader school-aged population. and household membership). the field team judged whether or not the student had been deliberately evasive or uncooperative. comprising less than 1% of the total sample.986 / Social Forces 80:3.S. and the respondent’s own educational. The five-page questionnaire began with a one-page grid that asked for basic social and demographic characteristics of each member of the respondent’s family (age. occupation.

migration (i. the last two categories contain respondents from nuclear families where the father was actively engaged in U.0 728 51.5 38.454 60.0 623 questions. Number of cases Males Want to work in U. he had taken at least one trip since the respondent entered school): “father 1–2” refers to families in which the father had made one or two such trips.0 726 68.9 1.9 45.8 8.e. some day Ever been to the U.1 11.6 27.1 27.6 15.S. The percentage of respondents saying they would like to work in the U.S. migration is coded into five ordinal categories. Number of cases Females Want to work in U.. Number of cases 37.S. “None” means that no members of the respondent’s family (extended or nuclear) had ever been to the U. classified by the degree of family involvement in international migration. Migration Gender and Aspiration None Extended Nuclear Father 1–2 Father 3+ Percentage Percentage Percentage Percentage Percentage All students Want to work in U. The degree of family involvement in U.9 48. The category “extended” contains respondents who reported that members of their extended.3 421 38.S.0 1.S. and generally reveals patterns consistent with our expectations.S.2 11.2 764 71.S. but that the father had not migrated since the respondent began school. some day Want to live in U. some day Want to live in U.Culture of Mexican Migration / 987 TABLE 1: Aspirations to Work and Live in the United States by Migratory Experience in One’s Nuclear and Extended Families — Students in Grades 6–12 within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Family Involvement in U.S.8 46.S.0 24. The top panel of the table presents information on all students regardless of gender.9 32.3 46.3 14.8 9.1 24.9 303 53.S.1 547 27.4 1.2 33.S.9 36.170 51.4 2. rises . We also show the percentages of respondents who reported that they themselves had been north of the border.9 27..019 58. family had ever been to the U.S.3 724 45.S. The “nuclear” category means that someone in the respondent’s nuclear family had been to the U. Finally.0 14.2 35.540 61. some day Ever been to the U. some day Ever been to the U. but not nuclear.1 50.S.S.0 24.5 776 53.154 44.S.0 32.2 42. some day Want to live in U.7 11. and “father 3+” indicates families in which the father had taken three or more trips.173 51.5 1.6 27.0 1.8 40.7 47.2 6.

We then divided municipios into three categories based on the resulting ratio. between 1986 and 1990 to the total population times 100. is at least twice the percentage who have been there. among respondents with fathers heavily involved in migration the percentage was 49%.S. 51% of males and 27% of females express a desire to work in the U.S. the desire to live in the U. As before. These discrepancies between aspirations and behavior suggest the tremendous potential for future migration among our respondents.S.. Aspirations to live and work in the U. the desire to live in the U. the percentage rises steadily through the extended.S.. experience on the part of the respondents. was just 34% among those in families lacking any migratory involvement. whereas among those in the most involved families the respective percentages are 71% and 53%. rises faster with family involvement among females than among males. A moderate prevalence ranged from 3 to 6 migrants per .S. male and female desires seem to proceed upward in roughly parallel fashion as family involvement increases. In contrast.S. which is the smallest unit of local government in Mexico (roughly comparable to a U. can in no way be attributed to prior U. At every level of involvement. males express a stronger desire than females to work in the U. Whereas only 37% of respondents in families without migrant experience expressed a desire to work in the U. we selected persons aged 12 and older and formed the ratio of the number who reported they had been to the U. Moreover. the degree to which females aspire to live versus work in the U. In addition. the difference is only 4 points among those in the highest class. is 14 points below that of males in the lowest involvement category. county). Prevalence was measured using data from a special government survey carried out in Zacatecas that asked a question about recent migrant experience (INEGI 1994). A low prevalence of migration was indicated in communities where the ratio was under 3 per hundred residents. The next two panels cross-tabulate aspirations separately by gender. March 2002 monotonically across categories of family involvement.S. Whereas the percentage saying they wanted to live in the U.S. nuclear. For each municipio. but among males the aspiration to work is much greater than the aspiration to live north of the border.S. As expected. Whereas the percentage of females aspiring to live in the U. the increase in the desire to work north of the border is monotonic across the intervening categories. and the percentage who desire to work there is three times the share with prior U. the percentage who aspire to live in the U. experience.. Among families least involved in migration.988 / Social Forces 80:3.S.S. and father 1-2 categories to reach 62% among those in which the father had made at least three trips north of the border. is likewise positively associated with greater family involvement in international migration.S. irrespective of the level of family involvement. In Table 2 we present aspirations by the degree of migratory prevalence in the respondent’s municipio. and the percentage rises continuously between these two extremes. is quite similar. Although lower in every category.S.S. consistent with our hypothesis of a gender interaction.

7 13.3 36.S. someday Ever been to the U. Number of cases Males Want to work in U.1 23. Although the female increase is monotonic across prevalence categories. although the pattern is not as strong or as consistent as that uncovered with respect to family involvement.S. Among both men and women. someday Want to live in U.1 46. The relationship between migratory prevalence and U. and then falls back to 63% at high prevalence levels. someday Ever been to the U.S. going from 40% in the lowest category to just 46% in the highest. aspirations roughly follows our expectations. to 65% in communities characterized by a moderate prevalence of U. Number of cases Low Percentage Medium Percentage High Percentage 48.S.7 4. Number of cases Females Want to work in U.S.0 501 45.S. someday Ever been to the U.8 1.8 1.585 46.1 42.Culture of Mexican Migration / 989 TABLE 2: Aspirations to Work and Live in the U.S.5 13. The aspiration to live in the U.S.725 57. and a high prevalence of migration included municipios with migrant prevalence ratios in excess of 6 per 100.1 40. someday Want to live in U.S.5 1.004 64. Migration in Muncipio Gender and Aspiration All students Want to work in U. it is not very sharp. is even less clearly related to the prevalence of migration in the community. the percentage wanting to work in the U.3 5.273 40.425 54.S. but then fails to advance as we move into the high prevalence category.8 23.3 23.S.6 40.1 38.S.5 2. dipping slightly to 54%. someday Want to live in U. by Prevalence of U.747 hundred residents.8 503 54.S.7 13. The same pattern is observed among males. migration.8 43. although as before the overall percentages are higher: the share aspiring to work north of the border rises from 57% among those living in communities with a low prevalence of migration.2 1.S.6 3. the percentage expressing a desire to live north of the border rises from low to medium prevalence .4 1.332 62.9 6. Migration in the Municipio — Students in Grades 6–12 within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Prevalence of U.5 42.S.3 35.S. Among all students. rises from 48% in the low migration prevalence category to 55% in the medium category.

the relationship is somewhat weak and aspirations to live north of the border are unrelated to the prevalence of migration. primary only. aspirations using two dichotomous variables indicating whether or not the respondent expressed a desire to work in the U.S.. migration that those of males. are positively related to the degree of migratory prevalence in the respondent’s community. Determinants of Aspirations Although the foregoing tabulations are generally consistent with the cultural theory of migration sketched earlier. March 2002 and then falls to very low levels as one moves into the high category. sex. Results also suggest possible differences in the transmission of values by gender: males are consistently more likely than females to want to work (as opposed to live) in the U. 0 if not).S. We measure U. semi-urban.S.S. Among all students.S. a more systematic test requires estimating wellcontrolled equations. aspirations to live and work in the U. than those coming from families with little or no involvement.S. are most closely connected to the degree of family involvement in U. The number of control variables we are able to consider is constrained by the information solicited on the five-page student questionnaires. the progression is from 41% to 43% to 38%. a shift that is inconsistent with the theory we developed earlier. we include as controls a set of dummy variables indicating mother’s education (none. Those coming from families that are highly involved in transnational migration are much more likely to express a desire both to live and work in the U. migration.. and accordingly. and the number of hours unpaid household labor performed in the prior week.S. and female aspirations appear to be more sensitive to the degree of family involvement in U. Simple cross-tabulations thus indicate that the cultural values in support of migration are transmitted primarily within family and kinship networks rather than more broadly within sending communities. his or her basic demographic traits (age. and number of nonworking dependents in the household). and secondary or more) as well as . In addition.S.S. The degree of family involvement in migration is measured using the five-category ordinal classification described above. Among school students in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. we use four dummy variables in our models (leaving the fifth category as the reference point). someday (yes = 1 and no = 0) and whether he or she someday would like to live in the U. and place of residence (rural. (yes = 1 and no = 0).S.990 / Social Forces 80:3. for example. Although desires to work in the U. and urban–with the second category including respondents from the town of Jerez and the third from the city of Zacatecas). We also control for the degree to which respondents are involved in local work by measuring the number of paid hours of labor performed in the prior week. the number of months of paid work done in the prior year. We hold constant each respondent’s prior migratory experience (1 if ever migrated to the U.

017 .002 .113 .027 .095 .194 .S.127 .485* –.522* 1.262 –– –.452* Father wants child to continue –.127 .E.201 .312 .123 .E.05 –1.598* –.660* . 1986–90 Control variables Respondent’s U.367* –.035 — .006 .147 .098 .013 — .030 .005 –. Urban status Rural Semiurban Urban Demographic background Age Female No.476 412.119 .052* .134* –.199 .360 .123 .208* 1602.090 .139 .119 Parental educational aspirations Mother wants child to continue –.098 .524* 4623.231 .248 .022 . of dependents Work experience Hours worked prior week Months worked prior year Hours housework prior week Parental education Mother less than primary Mother primary only Mother secondary only Mother’s schooling unknown Secondary Students S.115 –.005 –– .008 –– .099 .920* .153 .213 .009 –.714* –.062 –.227* .005 –– .193 .463* .201 –.658* .137 .008 .014 — .S.742* .177 .636 .385 .002 . trips Prevalence of U.192 .027 — .209 .034 . Family involvement in migration No migrants in family Migrants in extended family Migrants in nuclear family Father has 1–2 U.187 .S.010 .480* 2772.650 147.069 .211 .179 .116 .062 –– –.159 –– –.204 .179 .326* .Culture of Mexican Migration / 991 TABLE 3: Logit Regression Predicting the Likelihood of Wanting to Work in the U.101 –– .332* –. — .016 .S.167 .124 .033 .120 –– .075 . experience Has been to U.344* 2.076* –.095 .194 .S.915 155.106 .107 .366 .004 . — Students in Grades 6–12 within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Primary Students S.003 –– –.020* .134 .E.105 .182 .469* –.017* –– –.028 .177 .033 — . migration Percentage 12+ in U.569* .038 .023 .362* Intercept 2 –2 Log-likelihood Number of students * p < .265* –.181 –– .142* 1.006 .641* 1.328 .031 .230* –.S. Preparatory Students S.038 –.548* –.011 –– –.156 .995* –.025 .130 . trips Father has 3+ U.S.818* 3.

Using these variables. These correspond to rough age intervals of 9–11. the odds of wanting to work north of the border is again nearly three times as great among respondents from families displaying the highest migratory involvement as among those in families exhibiting the lowest involvement (e0. is much lower for females. moreover. family involvement is the leading determinant of aspirations to work in the U. In both cases. 12–14. is significantly and positively related to the degree of family involvement in international migration. secondary. and increases with the number of dependents in the respondent’s household. March 2002 dichotomous variables indicating whether or not the father and the mother wanted the respondent to continue schooling once the current grade level was completed. . may decide to encourage education in Mexico (thus reversing the causal arrow). females are significantly less likely than males to express an aspiration for U. work is likewise reduced by mother’s education. and. respectively.S.742 = 2. The aspiration to work in the U. it seems quite reasonable. among preparatory students the odds of aspiring to work in the U. Moreover. with respondents in the top two involvement categories having nearly three times the odds of those in the lowest category to express a desire to work north of the border (e1. Among primary school students. parental aspirations for schooling reduce children’s aspirations for work north of the border.S. we implicitly assume that parents have an asymmetric influence on their children. the aspiration to work in the U. Among the former. especially at younger ages. as before.S. Similar patterns are observed among secondary and preparatory students..S.S. and 15 and older. The desire for U. the only factors that matter are those associated with the respondent’s demographic characteristics and parental aspirations. experience. aspirations for U. Although it is possible that parents of children who lack aspirations to work in the U. and preparatory schools to capture the influence of migration on aspirations at distinct phases of children’s education histories. although there may be some overlap owing to grade repetition and discontinuities in attendance. Means and standard deviations are shown for these three groups of students in the Appendix. although the strength of the relationship moderates as children pass from primary through secondary to preparatory school. Among the controls we consider. labor. and the equation estimates are presented in Table 3. it is also strongly reduced when the father and the mother want the child to continue his or her schooling.S. rises with age.S.S. These regressions estimate gender as a main effect. labor are unrelated either to the prevalence of migration in the community or to the respondent’s own U. are roughly twice as great in the highest as in the lowest category (e0.S.77).70). Other things equal.995 = 2. Although we cannot directly test this assumption.020 = 2. rise steadily with family involvement. leaving interactions for more detailed scrutiny in the following section.992 / Social Forces 80:3. we estimated equation 1 separately for students in primary. In both sets of students. the odds of wanting to work in the U.10). Likewise.S.

290* .221 .190 .001 .153 .016 .067 .004 — .094 .127 –2 Log-likelihood Number of students * p < .041 .439* — –.113* –.006 .051* .074 –.189 .S.089 .280 .105 .150 .102 .193* –.049 –.184 .195 .071* Preparatory Students S.826 50.657* .059 .131 .855* .004 –.133 .035 Primary Students S. trips Prevalence of U.E.213 .091 .124 .119 . of dependents Work experience Hours worked prior week Months worked prior year Hours housework prior week Parental education Mother less than primary Mother primary only Mother secondary and above Mother’s schooling unknown Parental educational aspirations Mother wants child to continue Father wants child to continue Intercept 2 — .207 .184 –.691 83.469 179.007 — .168 .S.627* –.155 .277 –.006 –.195* –.005 — .312 1.006 — . — .164 .059 –. trips Father has 3+ U.215 –. 1986–90 Control variables Respondent’s U.118 .073 .166 .204 .014 — –.199 .144 .137 .023 –.169 — .675* 3.003 –. Urban status Rural Semiurban Urban Demographic background Age Female No.091* .608* 2588.S.219 .006 –.Culture of Mexican Migration / 993 TABLE 4: Logit Regression Predicting the Likelihood of Wanting to Live in the U.150 –. — .130 .005 –.640* — –.025 — .006 .255* –.181 .S.037 .007 .05 –.097 .: Students in Grades 6–12 within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Secondary Students S.078 –.352* .S.489* — .146 .024 .879* 2.636 1.277 .035 .105 .098 — .081 –.374* .057 .017 .457* 1.180 . migration Percentage 12+ in U.477* 4734.252* 1768.121 .099 .008 .133 .029 . experience Has been to U.784* .022 .027 .113 .095* –.005 — –.389 .076 .E.172 .007 — .038 .120 — .023 — .741* –.024 .603* .105 .249 –.E.203 .063 .S.190 .036 . Family involvement in migration No migrants in family Migrants in extended family Migrants in nuclear family Father has 1–2 U.S.

by the prevalence of U. the prevalence of U. among secondary school students those in the highest category have only 1. we expect that aspirations to migrate to the U. The effect of the family involvement in migration is similar to that just described: as involvement rises so do the odds of aspiring to live in the U.485 to –. appears to compete with the desire to continue schooling in Mexico. the aspiration to work in the U. however.S. to their aspirations to continue schooling in Mexico.. March 2002 Table 4 presents the aspiration to live in the U.714. although once again the strength of the relationship moderates as children age.784 = 2. primary students exhibit systematically lower educational aspirations than in those where migrants are scarce.2 times the odds of those in families with the least involvement to express a desire to live in the U. and aspirations for U. (e0. among students in our sample.193 to –. In both cases. and only in the cases of primary and secondary students are the differences statistically significant (p < . migration in the community. the odds of aspiring to an additional year of schooling are about half as big among those who aspire to work in the U. will lower the desire to invest in additional schooling within Mexico.. migration in the community is not strongly related to the aspiration to live in the U. Not surprisingly. Students were asked if they planned to continue schooling after the current grade level.9 times the odds. the direction of the effect is contrary to theoretical expectations.S. moreover.352. the desire to continue schooling among primary students is very strongly related to mother’s education and to parental aspirations for additional schooling.S.S. Whereas primary school students coming from families with the greatest migratory involvement have 2. Firmer evidence for the culture of migration comes from equations estimated for secondary and preparatory students.S. migrants. U. this hypothesis does not appear to be sustained.S. the desire to live in the U.S.994 / Social Forces 80:3. Among them.S.S. . although the effect of gender is much smaller than before. females are once again less likely to express a desire to live in the U.S. family involvement.S. experience has no effect on aspirations to work abroad. Among primary school students.S. Although the coefficient attains significance in the equation for preparatory students. and a respondent’s own migratory experience are not significant in predicting educational aspirations within Mexico. residence are generally unrelated to parental education or to parental aspirations for schooling. In communities with relatively large numbers of U. Unlike the aspiration to work. is strongly connected to a respondent’s own migratory experience: those who themselves have been north of the border are far more likely to express a desire to live there than those who have never migrated.S. As before.S. Table 5 presents estimates for a model that connects respondents’ desires to live and work in the U. Aspirations.05). Whereas the gender coefficient in the three work aspirations equations ranged from –. in the living aspirations equations it ranged from –. In contrast. especially among preparatory students.19). Educational aspirations are negatively influenced. Among background characteristics.S. If there is a culture of migration.

113 . Wants to live in U.120 — .174 .013 –.Culture of Mexican Migration / 995 TABLE 5: Logit Regression Predicting the Likelihood of Wanting to Continue Schooling after the Current Year — Students in Grades 6–12 within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Primary Students S.035 .S.034 .042 .042 –. Family involvement in migration No migrants in family Migrants in extended family Migrants in nuclear family Father has 1–2 U.435* .614* –.028 .161 –. experience Has been to U.005 — .123 — .131 .066 –.246* 2.S.266 .300 .S.036 .101 .107* .570 –. –.439* — .651* .208 .030 .S.283 .165 .261 .993* .196 .110 . migration Percentage 12+ in U.127 .312 1.129 .130 .080 .137 –.103 –.S.120 .200 .005 — . U.151 . 1986–90 Control variables Respondent’s U.625* .251 .097 .060* 3753.741 495.124* .006 .038 .228 .086 .821* .508 — 1.383* –.242 .247 –.004 — .159 — .109 –.110 .249 –.018 .240 .015 Prepatory Students S.185* .113 .001 .313 –.056 — .017 .S. –.180 –.080* .617* –.129 .E. trips Prevalence of U.368* –.078* .214 –2 Log-likelihood Number of students * p < .032 .167 .006 .243* 1.086 .S.686* .116 — .561* . trips Father has 3+ U.215* 1.694* — .157 .475* –.E.370 .107* 2221.699 .344 .102 .243 .946* .130* 3.078 — –.385 –.173 .174* 1.076 –.008 .123 .046 .685* –.035* .018 . Urban status Rural Semiurban Urban Demographic background Age Female No.005 — .580* 1066.007 .S.166 4.186 .261 –. of dependents Work experience Hours worked prior week Months worked prior year Hours housework prior week Parental education Mother less than primary Mother primary only Mother secondary only Mother’s schooling unknown Parental educational aspirations Mother wants child to continue Father wants child to continue Intercept 2 Secondary Students S.270 — . aspirations Wants to work in U.937 .640* –.285 .169 .079 — –.636 .786* .052 344.535 843.237 .05 .009* .009 — .025 .001 .209 1.S.059 –.233 .219 .033 .049* –.011 .001 — .085 — .E.

53).078 = 0. possibly reflecting an exposure to education in U. Likewise. schools. the odds of aspiring to additional schooling fall steadily as familial involvement and migration prevalence increase.996 / Social Forces 80:3. In summary.S. Likewise. the inculcation of migration-supporting values among young women may be more closely tied to family involvement and less related to community participation than among young men. the less motivated these individuals are to seek additional schooling in Mexico. Table 6 examines the hypothesis of such a gender interaction by showing for males and females the estimated effects of family. Each equation was estimated separately for males and females and the resulting . it is still possible that the cultural dynamics operate differently for males and females.S. children’s own aspirations for schooling are strongly related to their parents’.S. and personal involvement in U. Other things equal. As always. The emergence of pro-migration values may also follow more directly from the personal migratory experience of females than it does from that of males. but they are not significantly related to gender. migration. students who have actually been to the U.. The greater the involvement of a student’s family in international migration.92). Aspirations and Gender Despite strong evidence for the emergence of a culture of migration in response to rising migratory involvement among Mexican families and communities. Respondents falling into the highest category of migratory involvement have about half the odds of those in the lowest category to desire another year of schooling (e–0. males and females display essentially the same aspiration to continue schooling beyond the current year. the heavy involvement of Mexican communities and families in international migration contributes to a cultural milieu in which young people invest more faith in foreign wage labor than in Mexican education as a strategy for socioeconomic mobility. March 2002 as among those who do not (e–0. At each grade level. In other words. The only migration-related variable to mitigate these negative effects on educational aspirations is the respondent’s own experience.S. as a variety of investigators have argued.S. actually evince a higher motivation for additional schooling. migration on respondents’ aspirations to live and work in the U.614 = 0. community. Being more closely tied to the family than the wider public. and each point increase in the prevalence ratio lowers the odds of wanting another year of schooling by around 8% (e–0. the greater the involvement of both communities and families in foreign wage labor. the more likely he or she is to express a desire to live and work in the U.S.640 = 0. as communities and families shift from low to high involvement in U.S. cultural attitudes increasingly shift to increase the likelihood that future cohorts of young people will seek their fortune abroad rather than at home. and the more individuals aspire to work in the U.54).

experience Has been to U.086 . migration Percentage 12+ in U.547* .509* .S.321* .894* –. 1986–90 Respondent’s U.654* .227 Primary Males –.766* –.096 625 687 1780 1856 954 1159 Note: Significant male–female differences highlighted in bold.715* Prevalence of U.457* .S.S.204* .870 72.068 .060 123.003 Migrants in nuclear family .S.715* –.015 .194 .386* . * p < .769* .S.076 .273 .264 .994* .643* . Outcome: Wants to live in U.955 1253. Family involvement in migration Migrants in extended family –.705* –.S.203* .052 2354.508 64.017 . Family.160 .6221 –.439* 1.230 .057 .479* .858* . trips Father has 3+ U.077 Secondary Males Females Preparatory Males Females .016 .810 91.S.9094 .Culture of Mexican Migration / 997 TABLE 6: Effect of Individual.056 –. 1986–90 Respondent’s U.470* 1. trips .043 . trips Prevalence of U.4786 .769* –.003 .292 .540 2247.346* .133 .349 –. experience Has been to U.352 .S. .4679 –2. Family involvement in migration Migrants in extended family Migrants in nuclear family Father has 1–2 U. and Community Involvement on Aspirations to Work and Live in the United States Estimated by Gender — Students within Selected Schools in the State of Zacatecas Primary Males Females Outcome: Wants to work in U.254* .S.S.028 .811* Father has 3+ U.05 .054 .638* .295 859.043 .023 . migration Percentage 12+ in U.752* .987* 1.276 .374 172.386 Father has 1–2 U.S.521* Secondary Males Females Preparatory Males Females Females Intercept 2 -2 Log-Likelihood Number of students –1.615* 1.089 .717* .9836 –.033 .493* . trips .075 .5782 44.S.358 1498.168 721.279 .069* .S.S.573* .263 .858* 1.317 –.578* –.054* .032 .102* 1.

experience raises the female odds of wanting to work in the U.077 = 1. and all the differences are statistically significant. All the female coefficients for family involvement are greater than those of males (although only one of the four pairings attains statistical significance).08). Likewise. increases the odds of males wanting to work there by only 8% (e0.S. not to the extent of community involvement.386 = 1. For example. although primary school males are only slightly more likely to aspire to U.05).S. neither coefficients for the control variables nor the estimates of standard error are shown. Although there are no significant differences between male and female secondary students. residence (e0. the effect participation is stronger for females than males. but by this time many young men and women have already left the population of active students. having migrated to the U.998 / Social Forces 80:3. Within each category of familial involvement. Among primary students. whereas it raises the odds of females wanting to do so by nearly 50% (e0. the inculcation of aspirations to work in the U.069 = 1. Among primary school students. and six of the eight possible contrasts are statistically significant (p < . For young women.S.321 = 1. Likewise. has a stronger effect in promoting the desire of female than of male secondary students to live .38) compared with a small and insignificant decline in the odds for males. For young primary school males. the aspiration to work in the U.S. have twice the odds of those who have not to want to live north of the border (e0. is more strongly connected to family influence and especially personal experience for females than for males. Women are also more responsive than men to prior personal experience in the U. Similar patterns are observed when we consider aspirations to live in the U. but statistically significant coefficients are marked with an asterisk and significant male-female differences are indicated in bold. March 2002 coefficients for migration-related variables are presented in the table. Among primary and secondary students.S. Only among preparatory students do gender differentials moderate to insignificance. personal experience in the U. is dependent on the degree of migration within their families — more so that it is for their male counterparts. the coefficient associated with each category of familial involvement is greater for females than males.S.S. primary school females who have been to the U. Consistent with the observations of field researchers.25). however. the processes by which pro-migration values are socially transmitted do appear to be gendered.S.227 = 1. by 38% (e0.S. The gender differential with respect to family involvement is even greater among secondary school students. female aspirations are closely connected to family and personal experiences. in particular.04). for example. whereas the degree of a community involvement has no effect on the odds that a young woman would like to live abroad. each percentage point increase in the prevalence of migration increases the odds of wanting to live abroad by around 7% (e0. whereas among males the reverse tends to be true.S.07).47). at the preparatory level prior U.715 = 2. In the interests of economy.

The resulting coefficients are shown in Table 7. If aspirations do condition behavior. to display a higher likelihood of actually embarking on a trip northward at some point in time.. and one of the outlying agrarian settlements. The Link to Migratory Behavior The final stage in the cumulative causation of international migration occurs when aspirations to live and work in the U.S.S. Ideally. As children got older. the likelihood of leaving for the U. . Unfortunately. the gender differential with respect to aspirations to live abroad appears to moderate at the preparatory level.S. According to our estimates. however. it did not attempt to ascertain the timing of specific U. lead to a higher likelihood of out-migration by young people coming of age in communities characterized by a well-established culture of migration. as children and then follow them through their teenage years and young adulthood to see whether.S. we were able to make 268 matches.S. The students in this subsample ranged in age from 10 to 18. Given the limited degrees of freedom. yielding detailed information on the timing as well as the incidence of migration. The best we can do is link aspirations and behavior in the cross section. Although our data do include longitudinal event histories for household heads. they display a higher probability of leaving for the U. trips. gender seems to play its most powerful role in shaping the culture of migration among students in the younger grades. When we attempted to link student records with individual data from the MMP. we can link students to households enumerated by Durand and Massey’s (1999) Mexican Migration Project (MMP) in three sample communities: the city of Zacatecas. rose sharply. we sought to keep the model simple.S. and respondents consequently are not reliable witnesses to their own earlier mental orientations. Although the student questionnaire asked children to report whether they had ever been to the U. we defined a dichotomous variable that equaled 1 if the child left on a trip to the U.Culture of Mexican Migration / 999 north of the border. we then regressed this outcome on aspirations reported to us on the student survey while controlling for age and gender.S.S. As with aspirations to work in the U.. although the differential does not reach statistical significance. we do not have access to this kind of longitudinal data. For a subset of the school-based sample. For these cases. Jerez. Using a logistic model. Thus. in the two years prior to the survey and 0 otherwise. before they reach preparatory school. then we expect those expressing a desire to work in the U.S. other things equal. Recollections of aspirations held at some earlier time are inevitably contaminated by intervening events and behaviors. and not surprisingly the strongest single predictor of the odds of out-migration was age. we would like to identify boys and girls who express aspirations to live and/or work in the U. these are retrospective life histories and respondents simply cannot reconstruct with any validity their past psychological states.

Holding age and sex constant. migration. has already shown that having been to the U.S. Simple tabulations prepared for more than 7. We thus feel confident in arguing that aspirations to work in the U. and that it is the culturally transmitted aspiration to work abroad that increases the odds of leaving for the U.95).S. secondary. There is no statistical evidence of any link whatsoever between U. however. which indicate more realistic plans and assessments.S. thereby leading to much more significant results. during the reference period (e1.52). and preparatory students interviewed in the Mexican state of Zacatecas. We expect that had our survey questions been worded as expectations. estimated on thousands of cases. the likelihood of out-migration to the U. we have confirmed the basic propositions of qualitative fieldworkers who have argued for the importance of a culture of migration in promoting international movement between Mexico and the U. children are progressively more likely to report an aspiration to live and work north of the border.S. but the well-controlled model of Table 3. was most strongly connected to prior aspirations to work there. the coefficient for females was negative. and household characteristics are controlled. less strong among secondary school students.63 = 4.S. The Culture of Migration in Quantitative Perspective Through a quantitative analysis of survey data gathered from primary. Obviously a cross-sectional correlation between attitudes and behavior does not prove a causal relationship. our responses would not have changed dramatically. rather than the reverse. arise from family rather than personal involvement in U. Moreover. Thus children’s aspirations vis-à-vis the U. appear to be . has no bearing on current aspirations to work there. and expectations. an effect that just misses attaining significance at conventional levels (p = .1000 / Social Forces 80:3.S. As one might expect. we wish to distinguish between aspirations. parental.S. An alternative interpretation is that the act of migration itself promotes aspirations to work north of the border. Wording the survey questions as aspirations actually yields more conservative results for our analysis. that is directly predictive of migratory behavior.S. representing a general and subjective desire. Multivariate statistical models reveal that this association persists when a variety of personal.S. migration increases. Students who reported a desire to work in the U.000 students indicate that as a family’s level of involvement in U.07) owing to the small number of cases. although it is consistent with such a relationship.S. and least strong (but still significant) among preparatory students. migration and either the aspiration to continue schooling in Mexico or the desire to live north of the border.S.417 = 1.S. had five times the odds of having left for the U. March 2002 the odds increased by roughly 50% with each additional year of age (e0. It is only the desire to work in the U. although it was not statistically significant. and that the relationship is strongest among primary school students.

10 ** p < .05 shaped powerfully by familial involvement in international migration during young childhood.S. Those aspiring to work in the U. migration. is related to other attitudes and behavior in ways predicted by the cultural of migration thesis. children who aspire to work in the U.Culture of Mexican Migration / 1001 TABLE 7: Logit Regression Predicting the Likelihood of Migrating to the U. are more strongly connected to family migratory involvement among females than among males. the cultural processes involved in the transmission of migratory behavior appear to be highly gendered.417* –. an association that strengthens as one moves from primary to secondary to preparatory levels.S. Aspirations inculcated early in childhood thus later come to influence aspirations to remain in school.309 .S.767 2. and to the extent . The aspiration to work in the U. the inculcation of aspirations to live and work in the U. Respondent’s aspirations Wants to continue schooling Wants to work in U. girls are more likely than boys to acquire pro-migratory attitudes.818 .631† –. Those who want to work in the U.S. As Mexican families become more involved in U. — Selected Students in Grades 6–12 within Three Communities in State of Zacatecas Outcome: Migrated 1994–1996 S.628 1.158* 58.140 . therefore.904* 13.S.S.S.S.S. Control variables Age Female Intercept 2 p . appears to be far more important to instilling a desire for U.. residence among young women than among young men. are less likely to want to continue their education in Mexico. In particular.S.074 . are five times as likely to migrate as those who do not.E.905 .S. moreover.142 –10.785* 268 .914 . Holding age and sex constant.003 . are less likely to invest psychologically in resources (such as schooling) associated with socioeconomic mobility in Mexico and are more likely simply to leave for the U.501 . Wants to live in U.933 .001 –2 Log-likelihood Number of students † p < . Consistent with the observations of many fieldworkers.S. and personal experience in the U.854 .921 . at least in the cross section.

Although more work research is / Social Forces 80:3. 2000. Victor M. Espinosa. “On the Auspices of Female Migration between Mexico and the United States.S. substantially raising the odds that they actually will migrate as they get older and. As a consequence. which causes them to look northward rather than locally for opportunities and social mobility. Hinojosa. they reduce their investment in the acquisition of resources for mobility within Mexico (education). 1995. ultimately pass promigration values on to their own children. Celestino. and later migratory behavior are especially powerful among young women.pop. 1992. Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States. especially on the nature and extent of the empirical link between migratory aspirations and behavior.”Journal of Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 2:115–30. These links between family involvement.–Mexico Relations: Labor Market Interdependence. Stanford University Press. Jorge. and Douglas S. “Norteñización: Self-Perpetuating Migration from a Mexican Town. particularly when it comes to the decision to settle north of the border. Goldring. Luin P. Marcela. Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán. Douglas S. Thus.” Estudios Sociológicos 50:119-35.S. 2001. 1998.upenn. and Clark Reynolds. University of Arizona Press. Cerrutti. . Online Database accessible at http:// lexis. Massey. “The Mexican Immigration Experience and the Corrido Mexicano. 1983. our analysis provides the first quantitative evidence for the culture-of-migration argument made so well by earlier qualitative fieldworkers. Durand. the higher the likelihood that children will aspire to work in the U.. Raul A. 1999. 2000. Jorge. and increase their investment in the prospect of migration. “El Día del Emigrante y el Retorno del Purgatorio: Iglesia. 302–18 in U. “La Migración México–EUA y la Transnacionalización del Espacio Político y Social: Perspectivas Desde el México Rural. Migración a los Estados Unidos y Cambio Sociocultural en un Pueblo de los Altos de Jalisco. ———. March 2002 that these attitudes subsequently increase the odds of leaving for the U.” Demography 38:187-200. El Dilema del Retorno: Migración. experience north of the border is far more likely to promote aspirations to settle among females than among males. References Alarcón. Massey.S. our quantitative analyses yield insight into the social mechanisms by which the culture of migration is transmitted within a community. The more a community’s families become involved in migration. 1992. “The Changing Geography of Mexican Immigration to the United States: 1910–1996" Social Science Quarterly 81:1-16.. ———. Fernández. Durand. edited by Jorge Bustamante. and Fernando Charvet. Rafael. and Douglas S. The Mexican Migration Project. Género y Pertenencia en un Contexto Transnacional. Massey.” Estudios Sociológicos 10:315–40. through their involvement in international migration. children’s aspirations.” Pp.

276 .483 2123 .352 .218 .062 7.469 Number of students 1312 .495 1.469 .491 .478 .333 9.381 .588 .407 .396 Father has 1–2 U.341 .718 2.135 .675 .456 Father wants child to continue .731 .802 Control variables Respondent’s U.S. trips .287 .374 .461 .417 Hours housework prior week 6.505 8.475 .194 .471 Mother secondary .726 3.467 Demographic background Age 11.498 1.327 .376 Community-level prevalence of migration Percentage in U.731 3.768 8.514 Months worked prior year .475 3636 . 1986–90 6.154 .491 Urban .060 .657 .195 .276 .321 .500 1.441 .469 .607 .230 .012 1.771 .096 .649 6.024 3.S.470 .421 Father has 3+ U. Prepatory Students Mean S.361 Urban status Rural .339 .134 .490 .S.141 .203 .S.694 .S.264 .488 Student wants to live in U.211 .380 .447 .441 Migrants in nuclear family .671 .500 .447 Semi-urban .805 .327 .311 .332 .500 Student wants to continue schooling .451 .656 .402 .170 .490 .948 7.264 . someday .500 Number of dependents 4. experience Has been to U.232 .233 .035 .829 2.168 .479 .395 .907 .D.S.467 .171 .510 4.673 . someday .D.177 Parental education Mother less than primary .755 3.486 .294 .463 .072 .725 Work experience Hours worked prior week 2.753 5.173 .284 .403 . .309 13.499 .629 .400 3.264 .090 .470 . Dependent variables Student wants to work in U.182 .342 6.524 .462 1.517 .027 1.413 .300 9.943 Female .402 .330 . Primary Students Mean S.S.376 Parental educational aspirations Mother wants child to continue .366 .473 .358 .441 Mother’s schooling unknown .420 Migration-related variables Family involvement in migration No migrants in family .548 .386 .430 16.690 10.423 Mother primary only .495 .705 .408 . by Academic Level Secondary Students Mean S.348 Migrants in extended family .422 .Culture of Mexican Migration / 1003 APPENDIX: Means and Standard Deviations.423 . trips .259 .083 2.D.234 .159 .549 3.

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