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Mexico-U.S. migration: views from both sides of the border

Rebeca Wong, University of Maryland

Migration to the United States increased sharply in the 1980s and 1990s, raising political concerns. The flow from Mexico, of both documented and undocumented migrants, was particularly large. Good data would contribute to rational discussion of this politically-charged issue, but data on immigration, particularly of the undocumented, are notoriously poor. This paper applies residual estimation techniques to data from the 1990 and 2000 population censuses of Mexico and the United States (Mexico-born population) to quantify the intercensal migration flow, arguing that the reasons why undocumented migrants might avoid enumeration in the U.S. would not adversely affect data from Mexico. Results suggest that the annual net flow of migrants from Mexico to the U.S. averaged between 300,000 and 450,000 between 1990 and 2000. A sensitivity analysis indicates that these results are quite robust (especially those using U.S. data) to likely errors.

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Presented in Session 73: International migration statistics and measurement