The Economics of Transnational Living1


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    I greatly acknowledge the helpful comments, critiques, and ideas provided by Hans van Amersfoort, Fred Block, Louis DeSipio, Krystyna von Henneberg, Frank Hirtz, Peggy Levitt, Douglas Massey, Seán Ó Riain, Michael Peter Smith, David Wilson, and many others when earlier versions were presented at seminars and at the conference on transnational migration organized by the Social Science Research Council and the British Social and Economic Research Council's Transnational Communities Programme, Oxford University and Princeton University, Princeton, June 30, 2001.


Migrants' long-distance economic relations with their homelands have been the subject of an extensive, albeit fragmented, multidisciplinary inquiry. Most existing studies have been primarily concerned with the north-south flow of monetary remittances that migrants send to their homelands. Using a transnational perspective informed by economic sociology tenets, this article argues that this north-south, monetary-centered approach is too limited, for it fails to heed the multiple macroeconomic effects of migrants' transnational economic and noneconomic connections and, thus, underestimates migrants' agency and their influence at the global level. Using the concept of transnational living, the study presents new vistas of transnational migration that question accepted notions about the relationship between labor mobility and capital mobility.