Publication Date



This document presents an analytical overview of the following three questions: how does inequality affect migration? how much do we know about this link, particularly for the case of migration from Mexico to the United States? and can public policy play a role towards decreasing incentives to move north through inequality alleviation in Mexico? The first section includes a brief discussion of past and recent patterns in Mexican migration to the United States. Since inequality has been mainly addressed as an economic issue in the study of migration, the second part of the paper provides a general examination of different economic theoretical approaches developed to understand the extent to which inequality has an effect on the decision to migrate, on the rates of migration, and on the characteristics of migrants. The aim is to identify how inequality has been conceptualized to explain migration, as well as to identify facts about the Mexico-US case. The final section includes some considerations regarding public policy options. In conclusion, Mexico-US labor migration is associated with income inequalities between both countries. Inequality has also consequences for migrant selectivity in terms of educational characteristics and work skills. However, whether inequality within Mexico and within the sending communities promotes emigration or not remains an open question.

Document Type



Migration, Inequality, US-Mexico Migration


Migration Studies

Part of

Notes on Migration and Inequalities


SMU Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center