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Gendered disparities in Mexico-U.S. migration by class, ethnicity, and geography

Abstract

© 2015 Erin R. Hamilton. BACKGROUND Men are more likely than women to migrate from Mexico to the United States. This disparity has been shown to vary by level of education, suggesting that gender may interact with other forms of social status to inform the relative risk of Mexico-U.S. migration for men and women. OBJECTIVE This study examines whether and how the gender disparity in migration from Mexico to the United States varies by class, ethnicity, and geography. METHODS Data from two waves of the Mexican Family Life Survey are used to estimate the rate of migration to the United States for men and women across class, ethnic, and geographic groups. RESULTS The gender disparity in Mexico-U.S. migration varies systematically by class, ethnicity, and geography. The gender disparity in migration is largest among those with the least education, with the least power in the workforce, in the most impoverished households, who both identify as indigenous and speak an indigenous language, and who live in the southern region of Mexico. It is smallest among those with the most education, in the least impoverished households, with the highest occupational status, who do not identify as indigenous, and who live in the northern regions of Mexico. CONCLUSIONS Social privilege equalizes the gender disparity in Mexico-U.S. migration and social disadvantage exacerbates it. This pattern may arise because social status allows women to overcome gendered constraints on mobility, or because the meaning of gender varies by social status.

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