Bargaining Power and Emigration: Evidence on Migration-Related Decision-Making in Mexico

Jenna Nobles, University of California, Berkeley

A prevailing model of migration in transitioning countries depicts the decision to migrate as one made by a risk-diversifying household – a unit in which members share a single coherent set of preferences with respect to the decision to send one or more members to work elsewhere. While ethnographic evidence raised questions about the applicability of this model several years ago, it continues to be both emphasized and debated in recent migration research. In this study, I build upon rich ethnographic literature by testing the relevance of these household models using longitudinal nationally-representative survey data from Mexico. With information on social background, asset ownership, intergenerational transfers and decision-making, I first assess the relative bargaining power of Mexican women and men within partnerships and then consider whether variation on these measures is predictive of subsequent migration behavior, thereby revealing characteristics of the underlying decision-making dynamics in Mexican households.

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Presented in Session 135: Determinants of Migration and Immigration