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Mexico without (some) Mexicans: Out-Migration and Democratic Politics

Thursday April 17, 2008, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
Jorge Bravo (Nuffield College, Oxford University)
A common (if often only implicit) assumption is that recent out-migration from Mexico to the U.S. has been politically neutral in the sending country. This assumption, my research shows, is untenable. I document a simple (but often unnoticed) regularity: post-1990 migrants are not a random sample of the Mexican population, but instead differ from non-migrants along a variety of dimensions – i.e. gender, age, education, income, attitude towards risk. All of these dimensions are powerful predictors of a wide range of political attitudes and behaviors in Mexico. Building upon this regularity, I show that that migration has not been politically neutral, especially at the sub-national level. In particular, international migration has reshaped, via both 'selection' effects (those who leave differ in politically consequential ways from those who stay) and 'contextual' or 'incentive' effects (variation in the behavior and attitudes of politicians and citizens alike is not only a function of individual-level attributes, but, also, of their immediate environment, which structures the incentives governing political behavior), the local milieu in which Mexican citizens and politicians operate and interact with each other. I substantiate this conjecture for a variety of political and economic outcomes of interest, such as: partisan competition for local office; the demand for, and supply of, good local governance; levels of political participation and patterns of political recruitment at the local level; household investment in education; household participation in the labor market. (N.B. In my talk at IBEI, I will only go over one or two of these outcomes of interest). The massive migration flows from Mexico to the U.S. have thus contributed to the unevenness of democratization across Mexican sub-national units during the last two decades.


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