The Other Side of the Paradox: The Risk of Low Birth Weight among Infants of Migrant and Nonmigrant Households within Mexico


  • Reanne Frank,

    1. University of Chicago
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  • Robert A. Hummer

    1. University of Texas, Austin
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      This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (RO1-HD35949 and RO1-HD36249). The authors gratefully acknowledge the programming assistance of Starling G. Pullum and the comments from two anonymous reviewers. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2000 American Sociological Association meetings in Washington, DC. Please address any correspondence to: Reanne Frank, Population Research Center, University of Chicago, 1155 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637; e-mail: <>.


The main aim of this study is to understand how the international migration process affects the risk of low birth weight among Mexican-born infants using the ENADID 1997 (Encuesta Nacional de la Dinámica Demográfica), a nationally representative survey of the Mexican population. The total sample includes 23,607 infants. We employ logistic regression to estimate models in which migration status is included as a risk factor for low birth weight. The analysis demonstrates that membership in a migrant household provides protection from the risk of low birth weight largely through the receipt of remittances. In light of this evidence, it is particularly important that international migration be recognized as one of the processes that has a positive and significant effect on perinatal outcomes in both countries of origin and in countries of destination.