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CEP discussion paper
The Returns to Temporary Migration to the United States: Evidence from the Mexican Urban Employment Survey
Benjamin Aleman-Castilla June 2007
Paper No' CEPDP0804:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J61; J22; J15

Tags: temporary migration; real wages; labour supply

Mexican migration to the United States has been a very important issue throughout the twentieth century, and its relevance has reached unprecedented levels during the last two decades. Even though there is a huge body of literature that analyses many different aspects of this phenomenon, the economic performance of migrants with respect to the Mexican labour markets has received very little attention. This paper aims at filling this gap by presenting new evidence on the effect that migration to the United States has on labour market outcomes of Mexican workers. It uses data from the Mexican National Survey of Urban Labour (ENEU) for the period 1994-2002. Among other advantages, the panel structure of the survey is ideal for minimizing the problems of self-selection bias that are common in most of the alternative data sources. Fixed-effects estimation indicates that Mexican workers that migrate temporarily to the United States obtain significantly higher earnings in the U.S. labour market than in the Mexican one during the period of migration. They also tend to work longer hours and face a generally higher likelihood of non employment during the period of return migration. Finally, the gains from temporary migration are lower for more skilled workers and for those migrating from the most distant regions in Mexico, relative to the United States.