Economic integration and labor flows: stage migration in farm labor markets in Mexico and the United States

C. Zabin, Sallie Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


This article examines the probable effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on migration from Mexico to the US, disputing the view that expansion of jobs in Mexico could rapidly reduce undocumented migration. To the extent that NAFTA causes Mexican export agriculture to expand, migration to the US will increase rather than decrease in the short run. Data collected in both California and the Mexican State of Baja California show that indigenous migrants from southern Mexico typically first undertake internal migration, which lowers the costs and risks of US migration. Two features of employment in export agriculture were found to be specially significant in lowering the costs of US migration: first, working in export agriculture exposes migrants to more diverse social networks and information about US migration; second, agro-export employment in northern Mexico provides stable employment, for some members of the family close to the border, while allowing other members of the family to assume the risks of US migration. -Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-422
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography

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