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Feature 113015 Romero

Monday, November 30, 2015 

Mexico and the Need for Development Approaches to Migration

By Raquel Chuayffet 

Every day, thousands of Mexican migrants risk their lives. Their dream is a simple one: having somewhere to live, something to eat, and somewhere to work. Unfortunately, migration is not a choice but a necessity for millions of people living in extreme poverty in Mexico.

Persistent underdevelopment clearly leads to migration. However, migration can generate development. Besides remittances from individuals, collective remittances gathered by migrant associations living in the U.S. and invested in hometown social projects can generate growth. 

The Mexican Federal Government supports the initiatives of these associations. The program “3x1 migrants” triples the total amount of collective remittances in order to generate a significant impact. Nevertheless, young people continue to migrate because there are still deficiencies in the quality of public services, shortages of jobs, and slow economic growth.

To achieve long-term development and eventually reduce migration, the Mexican Federal Government should implement development policies in the states with the highest migration indices, which are Michoacán, Oaxaca and Guerrero. Besides infrastructure projects, economic development involves the creation of human capital, provision of adequate public services, and an extended labor market. 

Policies must focus on the following:

Human capital must be aligned to the creation of jobs, hence the importance of aligning supply of public services and goods to infrastructure projects. Provision of adequate services would lead to better opportunities for society, better salaries for workers, and stimulation of the economy in the short and long run. 

People must have access to a better quality of life. In particular, higher levels of education and nutritional status of children would break intergenerational poverty. If future generations were able to get out of poverty, young adults would have choices at home. Migration would not even be considered.

Development of transport and communications would stimulate trade within the country. Trade between states would increase demand and production of goods. Even though policies would focus on states with higher migration indices, a virtuous cycle of economic growth would be generated across the country.

In the long term, implementation of development policies would generate benefits that outweigh investment costs. Addressing migration from its roots requires time and consistency. Achieving the desired outcomes will not be easy and impact will not be observable in the short run. The strategy involves the collaboration of local and federal governments, evaluation of context, allocation of resources, and monitoring in order to reduce the likelihood of misallocation and waste of resources. 

Regardless of U.S. policies towards immigrants, migration has to be addressed from its roots, which are underdevelopment and lack of opportunities in Mexican communities. Thus, it is the responsibility of the Mexican Federal Government to alleviate migration.

Economic development, assisted by collective remittances, will reduce migration. People deserve to have the choice and not the need to migrate. They deserve the opportunity to prosper. They deserve a better quality of life.


"The development approach of migration," by Raquel Chuayffet.  A Mexican citizen, Chuayffet is currently pursuing a master's degree in International Affairs at George Washington University.

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