The dissertation examines the relationship between international migration and local development in rural areas of Mexico. It consists of three interconnected papers.
The first paper advances a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing the relationship between migration and productive investment in migrants' communities of origin. Based on a detailed literature review and original empirical research, it argues that investment is contingent on four main proximate factors: a minimum amount of money remitted or saved; a minimum level of local development; the presence of suitable investment opportunities; and the existence of specific household arrangements. The paper illustrates the proposed framework by applying it to the analysis of the contrasting investment patterns of two migrant communities in western Michoacán, Mexico.
The second paper investigates the association between remittances and varying modes of community development. It argues that the types of businesses created as a direct or indirect product of migrant remittances depend on the regional and local contexts of the migrants' communities of origin, and that different types of businesses contribute to the generation of different modes of development. It elaborates on this general argument through a detailed comparative case study of two migrant rural communities in western Michoacán, in which migration to the United States has had very different effects on local development.
The third paper maintains that although scholars acknowledge that migration dynamics may vary substantively across sending communities, there has been almost no attempt to explain these differences. The paper contributes to filling this gap in the literature by presenting the results of a comparative study of two rural Mexican communities in which migration dynamics to the U.S. have been strikingly different. It argues that this is the result of differences in social-capital stocks across migrant networks, and identifies the mechanisms that led to a virtuous cycle of high social capital accumulation and high migration in one community, and to a parallel vicious cycle of low social capital accumulation and low migration in the other.