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? This paper estimates the effect of return migration from the United States on the development of communities of origin in Mexico. Our empirical strategy uses migration demand, sex ratios, labor conditions, and the passing of restrictive legislation as instruments to identify the causal impact of return migration. Using data spanning a decade and from both sides of the border, we find that increased return migration leads to higher levels of local development via education, housing, and asset ownership. These findings suggest that the benefits of migration may extend beyond individuals' stays in host countries, as savings, human capital, entrepreneurial initiative, and social norms acquired abroad have the potential to contribute to economic development back home. Our findings have important policy implications, especially as migration flows have reversed since 2007, where now more migrants are returning to Mexico than those moving 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, we consider that returners may reduce violence by contributing to social renewal and economic growth in their home communities. 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 an instrumental variable bivariate Tobit maximum likelihood 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 municipalities in the bottom quartile of the homicide rate distribution benefit the most from return migration. 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.