The great recession and its effect on authorized and unauthorized Mexican agricultural workers in the United States: Who settles in the U.S.?

Evelyn Ravuri


Using the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) and binary logistic regression analysis, I determine the odds of settlement in the U.S. during the Great Recession (2008–2010) of authorized and unauthorized agricultural workers from Mexico who were in the U.S. long enough—and at the right time—to be interviewed by the NAWS. Both groups were more likely to settle in the U.S. during 2008–2010 than their counterparts during the pre-recession (2005–2007) suggesting that the economic crisis had deterred circular-return migration to Mexico and/or discouraged new immigrants from migrating to the U.S during the recession. The odds of settlement of the two groups were also affected by region of settlement within the U.S. Authorized agricultural migrants interviewed in the Eastern, Midwestern, and Northwestern states were significantly less likely to settle in the U.S. than their counterparts from the reference state California. The long history of immigrant settlement in California and a largely year-round growing season probably accounts for this difference. Conversely, unauthorized migrants interviewed in the Northwestern, Midwestern, and Southeastern states were significantly more likely to settle in the U.S. than their unauthorized counterparts from California, suggesting major differences in settlement patterns of authorized versus unauthorized Mexican migrants, which could have major implications for farm labor availability in the future. A third model with region of origin of migrants within Mexico and a fourth model with demographic, human capital, and other variables are included to further determine odds of settlement in the U.S. of authorized and unauthorized agricultural migrants.

Keywords: unauthorized agricultural workers; return migration; Mexico; migrant settlement

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