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Retirement and health benefits for Mexican migrant workers returning from the United States


  • This study was supported by a grant from the United States Social Security Administration funded as part of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC) and the National Institute of Aging (NIA) funded programme project “International Comparisons of Well-Being, Health and Retirement” 2P01AG022481-06. We thank Joanna Carroll for her excellent programming assistance, Ricardo Basurto, Claudia Diaz, Sarah Kups, Norely Martínez, Ervant Maksabedian, and Ashley Pierson for theirexcellent research assistance, and the anonymous referees for their valuable comments.

Addresses for correspondence: Emma Aguila, RAND, 1776 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90407, USA; E-mail: Julie Zissimopoulos, University of Southern California, Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, 3335 S. Figueroa Street, Unit A, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA; E-mail:


In the absence of a bilateral agreement for the portability and totalization of social security contributions between the United States and Mexico, this article examines the access to pension and health insurance benefits and employment status of older Mexican return migrants. We find that return migrants who have spent less than a year in the United States have a similar level of access to social security benefits as non-migrants. Return migrants who have spent at least a year in the United States are less likely to have public health insurance or social security benefits, and could be more vulnerable to poverty in old age. These results inform the debate on a bilateral social security agreement between the United States and Mexico to improve return migrants' social security.