Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.8.2008 | Von:
David Fitzgerald


One of the most unusual features of Mexican migration is the concentration of more than 98 percent of its migrants on one destination – the United States.

Figure 1: Mexican Emigrants to the United States as a Percentage of the Mexican Population, 1900-2005Figure 1: Mexican Emigrants to the United States as a Percentage of the Mexican Population, 1900-2005 Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)
Exposure to the northern neighbor takes place on a massive scale. A quarter of the Mexican adult population has visited or lived in the United States, and 60 percent have a relative living there. Roughly eleven million Mexicans, representing 11 percent of Mexico's population, lived in the United States in 2005. An estimated 400,000 more Mexicans join the net U.S. population each year.

Mexicans are by far the largest nationality of immigrants in the United States. The Mexico-born represented 30 percent of the total foreign-born population of the United States in 2002, including 21 percent of the legal immigrants and an estimated 57 percent of the unauthorized. [1] The 25 million people of Mexican origin in the United States in 2002, including both native and foreign-born, amounted to 8.7 percent of the U.S. population. [2]
Figure 2: "Mexicans" in the United States by Place of Birth, 1900-2000Figure 2: "Mexicans" in the United States by Place of Birth, 1900-2000 Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)

How has the migration profile changed in recent years?

Migration from Mexico to the United States in recent years has become more diverse in its geographic origins within Mexico, more dispersed in its U.S. geographic destinations, and more permanent.

Diversification within Mexico
The Central West plateau in Mexico has been the primary source of emigration for the past century. Even in 2003, a third of the Mexicans in the United States were born in just three adjacent states: Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guanajuato. [3] In relative terms, the highest levels of emigration are from the states of Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Durango in the same region. [4] Since the 1990s, however, emigration has touched almost the entire country. The 2000 census found migration or the receipt of remittances in 96 percent of the country's 2443 municipios (counties). Emigration from the south and the central region around Mexico City increased from 22 percent of the national total in 1990 to 30 percent in 2005. The eastern state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico has become an important source region for the first time. [5]

Dispersion within the United States
The Mexican-born population of the United States has become increasingly dispersed. The national share of Mexican immigrants living in California, Texas, Illinois, and Arizona fell from 89 percent in 1990 to 72 percent in 2002. [6] Although California remains the primary destination by far, with 42.8 percent of the Mexican-born population, the Southeast and New York have emerged as major destinations for the first time. Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina are now among the top ten destination states. [7] Dispersal is being driven in large part by the high cost of living in traditional destinations and the availability of work in the Southeast and Midwest's poultry and meat processing, light manufacturing, and construction industries. Although wages are lower in the Southeast and Midwest than in California, the high cost of housing in California and the saturation of low-skilled labor markets are making it a relatively less-attractive destination.


Because of its illegal nature, precise figures on the unauthorized population are impossible to obtain, but demographers have created estimates that most scholars believe to be reliable using the "residual method" calculated by subtracting the number of known legal migrants from the total foreign population known through census and government survey data, making statistical adjustments for deaths, emigration, and other factors. The "residue" is the likely unauthorized population.
Zogby and Rubio (2006); IFE (2000);


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