International Migration in Context: Migrant Types, Strategies and Outcomes

Filiz Garip, Harvard University

This paper explores types of migrants from Mexico to the U.S. in the period 1970-2000. Developing a context-dependent model of migration, the paper argues that variations in the social, economic and political context of sending and receiving regions create different conditions for migrating. These conditions are heightened or lessened by migrants' demographic and family characteristics. Together these elements help identify different types of migrants. A cluster analysis finds five distinct migrant types: network migrants (who follow migrant family members), income-maximizing migrants (who seek to increase income), risk-diversifying migrants (who migrate to diversify income sources), push migrants (who escape worsening economic conditions in Mexico), and pull migrants (who take advantage of favorable border conditions). The presence of each migrant type follows a clear time pattern, signifying critical changes in the migration context. Moreover, migrant types seem to influence several outcomes (legal or illegal entry, subsequent trips, length of stay) not foreseen by the theories of migration.

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Presented in Session 149: International Migration II