The End Of Mexico’s Great Migration?

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Gary Becker ponders the drop-off in illegal immigration from Mexico:

Once the American economy resumes its long-term growth path with full employment (it has not been on this path for the past 4 years), the economic pull from the US should return to where it had been before the economic crisis. However, the push from Mexico has been decreasing and should continue its downward path for the foreseeable future. One important cause is the sharp decline in Mexican birth rates during the past couple of decades.

Not long ago Mexico was a country with high birth rates that produced many young adults who had trouble finding jobs. Now, the Mexican total fertility rate (TFR)- the number of children born to a typical woman over her lifetime- has plummeted to about 2.25. This rate is only a little above the population replacement rate of 2.1. Unlike in the past, the number of young people in Mexico will no longer be growing rapidly over time, so that the numbers looking for work in the Mexican labor market will be on the decline.

The push from Mexico has also diminished because its economy has been growing at a good clip during the past 9 years. Excluding the large drop in 2009, the growth rate in real GDP has been over 4% per year. Mexico’s growth rate after 2009 considerably exceeds the American rate of under 2%, which is remarkable since about 80% of all Mexican exports go to the depressed American economy. One consequence is that the gap between earnings in Mexico and the United States is narrowing. This clearly reduces the demand to immigrate to America, especially under the difficult circumstances illegal immigrants face.