Nov 032010

Mexicans have been migrating from Mexico to find better employment for decades. Virtually all of this migration, over 95%, is to the USA. Migration to the USA accelerated rapidly after about 1970. Throughout this period, there has been a strong current of return migration back to Mexico. At present there are about 12 million Mexican-born residents of the USA.

The net flow of migrants peaked at about 550,000 in 2006-07.  That year over one million Mexicans entered the USA and just under 500,000 returned to Mexico. However, the recent economic recession had a strong negative impact on immigration from Mexico.

The net flow 2007-08 was down to about 375,000, with just over 800,000 entering and about 440,000 returning to Mexico. A year later, the net flow was about 200,000, with roughly 635,000 entering and 435,000 returning. Data for 2009-10 are not yet available.

It is interesting to note that in the two year period between 2006-07 and 2008-09 immigration dropped by almost 40%, while return migration declined by less than 10%. Apparently, potential immigrants in Mexico knew that jobs are scarce in the USA and thus they were relatively reluctant to migrate. On the other hand, many Mexicans in the USA appear to be hanging on and making money however possible in an effort to stay in the USA. This is particularly interesting because one might assume that undocumented workers in the USA might be among the first to be laid off.


J.S. Passel and D. Cohn; “Recession Slows – but Does Not Reverse – Mexican Immigration”, Pew Hispanic Center, Washington DC, July 22, 2009.

Migration between Mexico and the USA is the focus of chapter 25 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern MexicoAsk your library to buy a copy of this handy reference guide to all aspects of Mexico’s geography today! Better yet, order your own copy…

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