Land Ownership as a Determinant of International and Internal Migration in Mexico and Internal Migration in Thailand1


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    A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2002 meetings of the Population Association of America. The author is indebted to Barbara Entwisle, Rebecca Clark, Guang Guo, Ted Mouw, Francois Nielsen, Emilio Parrado, Ron Rindfuss, Ken Roberts, and Emily Rosenbaum for comments and encouragement on previous versions of this paper. This research is based on data from the Nang Rong Survey, a collaborative effort between investigators at the University of North Carolina, Carolina Population Center and investigators at the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University, Salaya, Thailand. It is funded by grant R01-HD25482 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Persons interested in obtaining data files from the Nang Rong Survey Project should contact The Nang Rong Survey Project, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, CB#8120, Chapel Hill, NC 27516–3997 (e-mail:


This study focuses on the effect of land ownership on internal and international out-migration in Mexico and on internal out-migration in Thailand. Land can impact migration in four ways: as wealth; as employment; as an investment opportunity; and through inequality in ownership. Discrete time event history models of individual migration, using data from the Mexican Migration Project (covering Western Mexico) and data from the Nang Rong Project (covering one district in Northeast Thailand), show the effects of size of landholdings on internal out-migration of men. They also estimate the independent effects of relative deprivation in land ownership on migration. Results show that the size of landholdings has a negative effect on out-migration for smaller landholders (the majority of landholders). The size of landholdings has a positive effect on out-migration for larger landholders. Results suggest that the purchase and improvement of land are opportunities for investing the proceeds of migration.