New Research on the Positive Effects of Return Migrants Elicits Interest

June 17, 2015

New research developed by Benjamin Waddell and Matías Fontenla, respectively of Adams State University and the University of New Mexico, has found that return migrants "have a positive effect on nearly every aspect of life." Waddell, an Assistant Professor of Sociology, is also an alum of the UNM Latin American Studies program. Fontenla is an Associate Professor of Economics at UNM and the Associate Director of Academic Programs for the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute. With real-life repercussions that extend beyond academia, their recent publication, "The Mexican Dream? The effect of return migrants on hometown development," published in The Social Science Journal, has elicited interest from the general public and been featured in Pacific Standard, a publication dedicated to covering "the nation's biggest issues in economics, education, the environment, and justice by focusing on what shapes human behavior - on why we do what we do, and why it matters."

The original article in The Social Science Journal considers the following: "Mexican migrants are returning to their homeland at record rates. Along with material goods, these former migrants may bring with them new ways of thinking about the world and envisioning the future. Still, relatively little is known about the degree to which former migrants affect the wellbeing of their local communities over time. This study evaluates the effect of return migrants on health, education, income, and political participation in Guanajuato, Mexico during the period 2000-2010. The findings imply that returnees may have positive effects within local economies, improving not only income, but also education, healthcare, electoral participation, and overall wellbeing. The results of this study have important implications for policy makers operating within emigration-prone regions of the world."

To learn more about the implication of these findings for return migrants and the relevance for policy makers, see the Pacific Standard's article on "Return Migrants Can Make a Big Difference," by J. Wesley Judd.