Monday, April 17, 2006

Demography and Mexican Immigration

The Washington Post has a solid article on the “push” factors in Mexican emigration. Unlike the vast majority of such articles, it addresses demography, albeit only briefly. But even that is a very incomplete picture, for two main reasons. First, as my dad and I argue, you can’t look at Mexican demography in isolation, because increases in the young Mexican population came precisely at a time when the U.S. population was getting older, thus producing what we’re calling a “demographic fit.” Second, that demographic fit is almost over, because—contrary to conventional wisdom—Mexican birth rates have been falling steadily in recent years, and the percentage of young people in the U.S. has been rising.

2 comments:

John Weeks 10:40 AM  

Greg, When you say that the demographic "fit" is over, do you mean that there will soon be a misfit? If Mexican birth rates are declining and US birth rates rising, we may still have a fit. And, from an immigration point of view, a much easier fit to manage.

Greg Weeks 11:53 AM  

I like “misfit,” maybe we’ll have to work that in…but yes, you’re right. The “fit” refers to the need for young labor in the U.S. combined with Mexico’s need to export the same. When that fit ends, it is a “perfect” situation only if Mexico’s economy can absorb its labor. If not, people will continue to come (though perhaps not in such great numbers), but there will be more young people competing for jobs in the U.S. A wrench in the works is the increased reliance on remittances, which also requires continued emigration to the U.S. regardless of “fit” or “misfit.”

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