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The effects of migrant remittances on population–environment dynamics in migrant origin areas: international migration, fertility, and consumption in highland Guatemala


International migration impacts origin regions in many ways. As examples, remittances from distant migrants may alter consumption patterns within sending communities, while exposure to different cultural norms may alter other behaviors. This paper combines these insights to offer a unique lens on migration’s environmental impact. From an environmental perspective, we ask the following question: is the likely rise in consumption brought about by remittances counterbalanced by a reduction in fertility in migrant households following exposure to lower fertility cultures? Based on ethnographic case studies in two western highland Guatemalan communities, we argue that the near-term rise in consumption due to remittances is not counterbalanced by rapid decline in migrant household fertility. However, over time, the environmental cost of consumption may be mitigated at the community level through diffusion of contraception and family planning norms yielding lower family size.

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