Mexican Migration to Drop, Study Says

Vanessa Colón, Fresno Bee, Jan. 17

Fewer Mexican immigrants will come to the Central Valley after 2010 because of a drop in Mexico’s birthrate and its potential for sustained economic growth, a study predicts.

The report, by University of California at Davis professor Philip Martin, foretells a future in which the decline of Mexico’s population will help ease the job creation challenge there and reduce the inclination to come across the border.

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The December study finds that the number of Mexicans turning 15, the age of labor force entry in Mexico, will drop by 50%. That’s a decline from about 1 million a year to 500,000 a year, according to Martin. He says the current high levels of Mexico-U.S. migration should not obscure the fact that the migration will soon drop.

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The Mexican birthrate dropped from 3.4 children per female in 1990 to 2.4 children per female in 2000, said Leo Chavez, professor of anthropology at the University of California at Irvine. Meanwhile, the birthrate in the United States is 2.1 children per female, Chavez said.

The decline of the birthrate began 30 years ago, when the Mexican government debuted a family planning program. Its aim was to reduce the population growth through advertisements and promotions, which proclaimed smaller families are better.

In 1970, the Mexican birthrate was seven to eight children per female, Chavez said.

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In a counterargument to Martin’s report, Steven Camarota, director of research for The Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, said a lower birthrate might have little impact on immigration because of the complex nature of Mexican migration.

“Mexico has experienced significant drops in fertility rates in 30 years. It so far has not so much had an impact on migration. It’s one of many factors,” Camarota said.

Higher wages in the United States and the network of Mexican-American families could continue to bring Mexicans to the United States, he said. He cited Russia, which has a much lower birthrate than Mexico, yet many Russians leave because of economic problems.

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