How Job Characteristics Affect International Migration: The Role of Informality in Mexico

Andres Villarreal, University of Texas at Austin
Sarah Blanchard, University of Texas at Austin

Previous studies have paid insufficient attention to the kinds of jobs that are more likely to retain workers in their countries of origin. We use information from a panel survey of Mexican adults to examine how job characteristics affect the risk of international migration. We separate our analysis by level of urbanization and gender. Our survey also allows us to distinguish migrants according to whether they migrate for work or for other reasons. We find informality to be a significant predictor of international migration. Even after controlling for individual factors including workers’ wages, as well as various household- and community-level predictors, workers employed in the informal sector have significantly higher odds of migrating than their counterparts in the formal sector. The pervasive nature of informality in many developing countries where a high proportion of international migrants originate may therefore create a constant supply of workers who are predisposed to migrate.

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Presented in Session 151: Mexican Migration to the United States