Networks of capital, networks for migration: political–economic integration and the changing geography of Mexico–US migration

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Abstract

While economic globalization has altered the geography of international migration and introduced an array of new sources and destinations, our understanding of the specific mechanisms that link economic globalization to migration remains limited. In this article, I attempt to extend previous research by undertaking an empirical case study of Mexican migration to the USA. Using a unique dataset, I construct multivariate models to test whether, in the context of economic integration, occupations channel migration between similar sectors of the Mexican and US economies. I focus on the food-processing sector because of its role in the geographic dispersal of Mexican immigration. The results show a strong channelling of Mexican immigration along an occupational line linking the Mexican and US food-processing sectors. The implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which ushered in a period of intensive political and economic integration, strengthened this occupational channel. By seeing the changing geography of Mexico–US migration in the context of economic globalization, this study casts light on the micro-level foundations of the globalization–migration nexus.

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