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Emigrant or Sojourner? Migration Intensity and Its Determinants

This Working Paper develops the concept of 'migration intensity'--the degree to which a migrant shifts his attachment, association and engagement from his place of origin to the migration destination. Amongmale Mexican migrants to theUnited States, Kaufmann finds strong complementarities among remittances, migration patterns, and localized investments in physical, social and human capital. Based on these, he derives an Index of Migration Intensity (IMI). The IMI reveals that the majority of Mexicans have low levels of migration intensity, but migration intensity has been growing over time. Migration intensity varies as expected: education, prior migration experience, foreign family ties, and original residence in communities with few economic opportunities all promote higher migration intensity. From the standpoint of sending countries, low migration intensity has the desirable effects of enhancing positive financial transfers and mitigating the resource losses connected to the human outflow. From the standpoint of receiving countries, low migration intensity may also be desirable, depending on policy goals.

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