Mexican Migration Down to 'Net Zero'

Fewer leaving Mexico, many returning from US

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 9, 2012 2:57 AM CDT | Updated Apr 9, 2012 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Rising standards of living in Mexico are causing emigration to drop, and increasing the number of Mexican immigrants returning home, reversing the massive exodus of the 1980s and '90s, reports the Christian Science Monitor. In fact, with one million Mexicans returning from the US between 2005 and 2010—three times more than in the previous five years—some experts believe migration to America is now at a "net zero" for the first time since the 1960s.

The number of undocumented Mexicans in America fell from 12 million to 11 million during the 2008 recession, and that number has not rebounded. Of course, a weaker US economy and stronger border enforcement have also contributed to the change. However, better education and infrastructure, plunging fertility rates, and rising salaries in Mexico are also changing the balance. For example, the high school enrollment rate has climbed from 54% in 1991 to 87% in 2009, and university enrollment rose from 15% to 27% in Mexico. "The calculation is finally making people come back and decide to stay in Mexico," said one demographic expert.

In this Sept. 27, 2010 photo, contractors reinforce a section of damaged border fence in Douglas, Ariz., as seen from Agua Prieta in Sonora, Mexico.
In this Sept. 27, 2010 photo, contractors reinforce a section of damaged border fence in Douglas, Ariz., as seen from Agua Prieta in Sonora, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Matt York)
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