Remittances, Emigration and Politics in Mexico and Latin America

Remittances are a major source of foreign revenue in many developing countries. Mexico is one of the countries in the world that receives the highest amount of absolute remittances. Similarly, Latin America as a region is one of the highest recipients of remittances in the world. How do these flows affect the political behaviour of those who receive them? Do these changes contribute to or detract from the consolidation of democracies and by what mechanisms? And how do incumbents at different levels of government alter their behaviour to attract these resources? Do governments develop policies of diaspora engagement and with what consequences? Are financial remittances and social remittances different in their consequences?

Work in Progress

“Emigration and Collective Mobilization in Times of Crime”

We explore the role of workers’ remittances in supporting collective political activities against crime in Mexico. Research on remittances reports both a political engagement and disengagement effect following the reception of remittances. On one hand, remittances sent by relatives abroad provide extra resources for political action at home. On the other hand, receiving remittances makes recipients less dependent on the state, and through the reduction of economic grievances, less critical of its performance. As a result, remittances can be associated with both and increase and a decrease of collective mobilization. In this paper, we claim that both effects can co-exist and that the predominance of one or the other mechanism depends on the amount of remittances. Concretely, we claim that disengagement from the state and a less critical stance are only visible at a sufficiently high level of remittances. Using original data on protest against crime at the state level and the existence of self-defense organizations at the municipal level, we find a non-linear relationship between remittances and the likelihood of protesting against crime in Mexico. This paper contributes to our understanding of how remittances shape political behavior in home countries. Importantly, it also contributes to our understanding of international networks as causes of domestic collective mobilization. Dr. Meseguer is working with Sandra Ley (CIDE) and Eduardo Ibarra-Olivo (Researcher at LSE) in this projects.

“Return Migration and Democratization”

In this paper, we explore the political consequences of return migration and the overall consequences of what are called “social remittances”; that is, the transmission of ideas, norms, and values via communication with emigrant relatives. While ongoing research is showing that communication with relatives settled in advanced democratic countries results in the transmission of democratic values, return migration does not appear to have the same effect. We shall analyse a database on voting and return migration in Mexico to test whether return migrants help to consolidate democracy through their electoral behaviour. This research is being carried out in collaboration with Christian Ambrosius (Free University of Berlin).

Publications and Working Papers

  • González-Ocantos, Ezequiel, Chad Kiewiet de Jonge, and Covadonga Meseguer. “Remittances and Vote Buying.” Forthcoming, Latin American Research Review.
  • Meseguer, C, P. Jaupart and J. Aparicio. 2017 “The Limits of Material Benefits: Remittances and Pro-Americanism in Mexico.” Journal of Politics in Latin America, 9(2):3-40.
  • Meseguer, Covadonga, S. Ley and E. Ibarra-Olivo. 2017. “Sending Money Home in Times of Crime: The Case of Mexico.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, first published online 15 March 2017.
  • Meseguer, C. S. Lavezzolo and J. Aparicio. “Financial Remittances, Trans-Border Conversations, and the State.” Comparative Migration Studies, 4: 13.
  • Meseguer, C. and Kemmerling. Forthcoming. “On Work and Welfare: Anti-immigrant Sentiment in Latin America.” International Migration Review.
  • Meseguer, C, K. Burgess and J. Aparicio (Guest Editors). 2014. “International Migration and Home Country Politics.” Special Issue in Studies in Comparative International Development 49(1).
  • Meseguer, C and K. Burgess. 2014. “International Migration and Home Country Politics.” Lead paper of the Special Issue “Politics and Migration in Out-Migration Countries.” Studies in Comparative International Development 49(1):1-12.
  • Meseguer, C. and J. Aparicio. “Supply or Demand? Migration and Political Manipulation in Mexico.” Studies in Comparative International Development, 47(4): 411-440.
  • Meseguer, C. and J. Aparicio. 2012 “Migration and Distribution: The Political Economy of the 3×1 Program for Migrants in Mexico.” Latin American Politics & Society, Winter 54(4): 147-178.
  • Aparicio, J and C. Meseguer. “Collective Remittances and the State: The 3×1 Program in Mexican Municipalities.” World Development, 40(1): 206-222.

Examples of Public Engagement