Is Mexico on its way to becoming the new Land of Opportunity?
Illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States has plummeted, leaving experts scrambling for explanations. Recent statistics are showing an unprecedented drop in illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States, Douglas Massey of Princeton's Mexican Migration Project told the New York Times.
For the first time in 60 years, the net traffic has gone to zero and probably is a little bit negative.
The findings bring an unexpected twist to the heated illegal immigration debate of the past decade.
Life for illegal immigrants in the United States has unarguably become harder in recent years. Government crackdowns on businesses make finding employment without papers a daunting task, and the United States’ current economic situation significantly decreases the financial incentive for prospective immigrants.
However a recent article from the New York Times gave a surprising explanation for the decline. It’s not that the United States is getting worse. It’s that Mexico is getting better. Rapidly improving social and economic prospects in Mexico have made staying home more attractive than immigrating to the United States.
Long-term research indicates several related factors within Mexico that may explain the immigration decline: birth control and education. Birth control efforts have dramatically decreased the fertility rate in Mexico from 6.8 children per woman in 1970 to just two today. Furthermore, government initiatives seem to be having a positive impact on education. “Around half the students now move on to higher schooling, up from 30 percent a decade ago,” according to the New York Times. Fewer workers with more schooling indicates a promising, prosperous future for Mexico, depending on which statistics you rely on.
The findings invite significant debate — many economists diverge over official indicators of Mexico’s economy. Whatever the true figures, though, only time will tell what the full impact of this new trend in immigration will be. A study by the World Bank indicates that Mexico will need to be prepared to compensate for factors linked to immigration such as decreased remittance incomes, or portions of migrant workers' wages sent home to assist their families, that currently account for up to 15 percent of gross state product in the poorer states of Mexico and have a range of positive influences on economic development.
In the meantime, the evidence suggests that for many Mexicans, the grass is no longer greener on the other side.