My areas of research include: Migration, remittances, return migration, Latin American economics, poverty, and development
Return Migration and Development
Can return migrants contribute to the development of their home countries? Recent research on return migration has analyzed out-migration from host countries, the determinants of return migration, the transfer of cultural and political norms, and individual labor outcomes. Despite evidence of extensive positive effects in these areas, very little research has been conducted on the development impact of return migration at the aggregate level in developing countries. This study uses data from all Mexican municipalities from 2005-2015 to estimate the welfare effect of return migrants from the United States on their communities of origin. The premise is that migrants return with savings, human capital, entrepreneurial initiative, and social norms acquired abroad and thus have the potential to contribute to their hometown economies. Using a three-stage least squares system of equations, the analysis addresses various potential sources of endogeneity and shows that return migration significantly contributes to local economic development. These findings have important policy implications, especially because since 2007, more migrants have returned to Mexico than those who have moved to the United States.
There is reason to suspect that return migrants can reduce social violence in migrant-prone regions of the world. Taking into account that recent research shows positive effects of return migration in countries of origin, we consider that returners may reduce violence by contributing to social renewal and economic growth in the areas in which they choose to resettle. We estimate the direct effects of return migration in the context of Mexico, a traditionally migrant country that has suffered record levels of violence in the past decade. Using data on homicide rates from 2,456 municipalities for the 2011-2013 period and a two-stage approach, we find that higher rates of return migration lead to a decline in local homicide rates. We also show, with a censored quantile instrumental variable (CQIV) model, that return migration has the strongest negative effects in municipalities in which violence levels are highest. Our work has important implications for crime reduction policies in developing countries, and specifically, in Mexico, where social violence has wreaked havoc on society in recent years.
Mixed Effects of Remittances on Child Education (2018, IZA Journal of Development and Migration)
We exploit the size of the 2010 Ecuadorian Census to estimate the effect of remittances on secondary school enrollment across four key dimensions: gender, household wealth, rural vs. urban, and family migration status. Using a bivariate probit model that accounts for both endogeneity and non-linearity issues, we find both positive and negative effects of remittances on the likelihood of schooling. The strongest positive effects are for poorer, urban males, while the negative effects are for rural females. For children in wealthier households, the effects of remittances are either negative or non-significant. This suggests that the positive income effects of remittances may be offset by the negative effects of a missing parent due to migration, more visible in wealthier families where financial constraints may not be as binding. We find further support for this by estimating the effects of remittances conditional on migration status. Our results show positive effects on schooling for non-migrant households that receive remittances, and no effects for children living in households where at least one parent has migrated. The sharp contrasts within and across groups, while using the same data and econometric specifications, helps explain the lack of consensus in the literature.
Paths to Development? Rural Roads and Multidimensional Poverty in the Hills and Plains of Nepal (2018), Journal of International Development
We examine the impact of rural road construction on multidimensional poverty by using Nepal’s Demographic and Health Survey and a difference-in-differences approach. We find reductions in deprivation, mainly driven by asset ownership and dwelling infrastructure, and small or non-significant effects on health and education. Results are robust to different specifications and estimation methods, although we find heterogeneity across groups and dimensions. We argue that the heterogeneity might be driven by labour characteristics, infrastructure requirements, time considerations; and risk assessment and decision-making practices. Our work highlights the importance of multidimensional measures to assess poverty and to evaluate infrastructure projects.