Migradollars and Mortality: The Effects of Migration on Infant Survival in Mexico

Kanaiaupuni, Shawn Malia, and Katharine M. Donato
Working paper no. 1998-10


Few studies have examined how migration affects the health of populations in origin communities. We apply multilevel methods to data from Mexico to examine how community and household migration patterns affect infant survival outcomes. We view migration as a cumulative process with varying health effects at different stages of its progression, and test several hypotheses regarding the effects of migration. Findings suggest higher rates of infant mortality in communities experiencing intense U.S. migration. However, two factors diminish the disruptive effects of migration—migradollars, which are U.S. remittances to communities, and the institutionalization of migration over time. Mortality risks fall 1) where remittances are high, and 2) as migration becomes increasingly salient to the livelihoods of communities. Together, the findings indicate eventual benefits to all infants, irrespective of household migration experience, as a result of the development of social and economic processes related to U.S. migration.