Household Composition, Family Migration, and Community Context: Migrant Remittances in Four Countries


  • *The first author will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the XXIV Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association (Dallas, TX, March 2003), the First Conference of the Latin American Migration Project (Villa Lapas, Costa Rica, April 2003), and the 29th Annual Meeting of the Mid-South Sociological Association (Baton Rouge, LA, November 2003). The authors benefited from insightful comments received after all these presentations, as well as from helpful suggestions made by two anonymous reviewers. The Mexican Migration Project is supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5 R37-HD24047, R01 HD35643) and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (94-7795). The Latin American Migration Project received support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD35848).

Direct correspondence to Mariano Sana, Louisiana State University, Department of Sociology and Louisiana Population Data Center, 18 Stubbs Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 〈〉.


Objectives. We study migrant remittances among households surveyed in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, testing expectations derived from the new economics of labor migration (NELM) and from the historic-structural approach.

Methods. We applied logistic regression analyses to survey data collected by the Mexican Migration Project and the Latin American Migration Project, focusing on the contrast between Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Results. In Mexico, remittances seem to be associated with the patriarchal traditional family, but in the Dominican Republic we verified the opposite. Receipt of remittances is positively associated with degree of development among Mexican households, but the association is negative in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Mexican remittances are negatively associated with the number of businesses in the local community.

Conclusions. In Mexico, as predicted by NELM, the cohesive patriarchal family ensures the flow of remittances as part of a household strategy of risk diversification. Dominican remittances, however, seem to be mostly determined by lack of opportunities and household need.