Apr 252011

Mexico-USA international migration remains a hot topic in any “Geography of Mexico” program. But international migration is not the only form of migration in Mexico; internal (domestic) migration is also important. This includes people moving house within the same town or city, as well as those who move to a different town, city or state.

The most rapid period of urban growth in Mexico coincided with high rates of rural-urban migration. As the proportion of the total population residing in rural populations fell, the proportion of the population living in urban areas (defined in Mexico as settlements with a population exceeding 2,500) rose, a trend called urbanization.

Rural-urban migration within Mexico has slowed down dramatically in recent years, but internal migration is still very common, with increasing numbers of Mexicans opting to live in mid-sized cities (those with a population between 100,000 and 1,000,000). In many cases, this involves a change of state, and this post examines which states in Mexico have attracted the most migrants from other states or from outside the country.

The 2010 census reveals that 18.4% of people residing in Mexico were born in another Mexican state or in a foreign country. In Quintana Roo, 54% of the residents were born outside the state. These residents were mostly attracted to Quintana Roo by the rapidly growing tourist industry in Cancún and other resorts. Almost 13% of Quintana Roo residents moved into the state within the last five years.

Over 45% of Baja California residents, 1.4 million people, were born elsewhere, and almost 6% moved into the state in the last five years. These migrants were probably attracted to the growing employment opportunities in Tijuana and Mexicali. Some may be waiting to try to cross illegally into the USA or have already made an unsuccessful attempt and are contemplating their next move.

Baja California Sur has almost 40% who were born elsewhere and over 13% who moved into the state within the past five years. These migrants were mostly attracted to jobs created in the booming tourism industry and in the associated construction sector.

About 37% of residents in the State of Mexico, 5.6 million people, were born elsewhere. Migration to the State of Mexico is mostly linked to the suburbanization and counter-urbanization of Mexico City. Between 2005 and 2010, about half a million people moved out of Mexico City and over 380,000 of these settled in the State of Mexico and an additional 38,000 moved to Hidalgo which is part of Metropolitan Mexico City. (For the areas involved, see Is Mexico City sprawl a sign of a future megalopolis?) Similar processes are also taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city: Population change in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

States with rather low income levels and slow economic growth attracted few migrants. Only 3.6% of Chiapas residents were born outside the state, with 1.2% moving into Chiapas in the last five years. Interestingly, Chiapas also has one the lowest rates of out-migration. Other states with relatively few migrants are Guerrero, Oaxaca, Yucatán and Tabasco.

Internal migration in Mexico is the focus of chapter 25 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico. Ask 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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