Migration vs. development? The case of poverty and inequality in Mexico

Agustín Escobar Latapi


Although the migration – development nexus is widely recognized as a complex one, it is generally thought that there is a relationship between poverty and emigration, and that remittances lessen inequality. On the basis of Latin American and Mexican data, this chapter intends to show that for Mexico, the exchange of migrants for remittances is among the lowest in Latin America, that extreme poor Mexicans don't migrate although the moderately poor do, that remittances have a small, non-significant impact on the most widely used inequality index of all households and a very large one on the inequality index of remittance-receiving households, and finally that, to Mexican households, the opportunity cost of international migration is higher than remittance income. In summary, there is a relationship between poverty and migration (and vice versa), but this relationship is far from linear, and in some respects may be a perverse one for Mexico and for Mexican households.


Migration; remittances; inequality; poverty; Mexico

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