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Return migration among Latin American elderly in the U.S.: A study of its magnitude, characteristics and consequences

TitleReturn migration among Latin American elderly in the U.S.: A study of its magnitude, characteristics and consequences
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsVega, ACelina
UniversityVega, Alma Celina: U California, Berkeley, US
Accession NumberDissertation Abstract: 2014-99130-083
Keywords*Aging, *Government Policy Making, Developmental Psychology [2800], Human Male Adulthood (18 yrs & older) Middle Age (40-64 yrs), Human Migration, Immigration, Latin American immigrants, Mexican immigrants, administrative data, aging process, average benefit amounts, benefit calculation formula, birth cohorts, causal interpretation, citizenship status, data limitations, data sources, daunting challenge, experi, us
AbstractThe 1965 Immigration Act released a stream of immigration from Asia and Latin America that continues to shape the U.S. population composition. While some of these migrants promptly returned to their countries of origin, many spent many years in the U.S. and face retirement with truncated work histories, legal impediments to old-age support programs, and social networks scattered in two countries. This dissertation examines one issue in the aging process for Latin American immigrants, namely the location of their retirement. I examine the extent to which older immigrants return to their home countries during later life and whether retirement income plays a role in this decision. A daunting challenge in studying this topic is data limitations. The migration literature notes numerous inconsistencies across data sources due to their different strengths and limitations. To address this issue, I do an in-depth examination of the magnitude and characteristics of return migration among older Mexican immigrants using multiple data sources to assess the consistency of the outcomes. In chapter 2, I discuss the rate of return migration among Mexican immigrants aged 50 years and their characteristics compared to their U.S.-residing counterparts using the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) for Mexico, the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID), and the Mexican Health and Aging Survey (MHAS). I find that the five-year incidence of return migration from the U.S. to Mexico ranges from two percent when generated using IPUMS Mexico to six percent when using the MHAS. However, while the rate of return migration among this population is inconsistent across data sources, certain characteristics are not. All data sources suggest that return migrants are predominantly male and have intermediary levels of education. Characteristics that are inconsistent across data sources are marital, employment, and citizenship status. Aside from the magnitude and characteristics of return migration, I also examine one possible reason for return migration during later life, namely higher levels of retirement income. Mexicans with greater retirement benefits may view this income stream as a means toward greater luxury in the home country. Conversely, these migrants may return migrate only upon concluding that they cannot make ends meet in the U.S. Each scenario has vastly different implications for the U.S. economy. I examine this question in two chapters in order to take advantage of two forms of data: survey and administrative data. Pooling IPUMS U.S.A. and IPUMS Mexico, I conduct logistic regressions to determine if higher levels of retirement income are associated with an increased probability of return migration. I also do a sensitivity analysis to assess possible biases associated with pooling two data sources. Results from this chapter suggest that Mexican immigrants with lower levels of retirement income are more likely to return to their home country during later life than those with higher levels of retirement income. This pattern holds assuming various rates of Hispanic undercount. However, in the absence of a natural experiment, one cannot attach a causal interpretation to the results of this chapter. The experimental nature of chapter 4 does enable a causal interpretation. In chapter 4, I use a natural experiment whereby the Social Security Administration substantially lowered the Social Security benefits of the 1917-1921 birth cohorts due to a mistake in their benefit calculation formula. These birth cohorts have since been referred to as the "notch" generation as graphs depicting average benefit amounts by birth cohort show a visible notch for this group. In chapter 4, I use this natural source of exogeneity to observe whether the "notch" generation was more likely to return migrate than those who did not receive these lower benefits. Results of this chapter indicate that Social Se... (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).