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Migration of Mexican Seasonal Farm Workers to Canada and Development: Obstacles to Productive Investment

Tanya Basok
The International Migration Review
Vol. 34, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 79-97
DOI: 10.2307/2676013
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2676013
Page Count: 19
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Migration of Mexican Seasonal Farm Workers to Canada and Development: Obstacles to Productive Investment
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Abstract

This article explores the impact of international labor migration on development in communities of origin. It outlines three theoretical positions corresponding to specific theoretical trends in the field of development. The first position is represented by those who postulate that remittances and acquired skills and knowledge contribute to local development (the optimistic perspective). The second position is represented by those who regard the impact of international migration in predominantly negative terms (the pessimistic perspective). And finally, there are those who believe that some, although limited, growth is possible when transmigrants remit financial and social capital (the moderately optimistic perspective). Based on research on Mexican seasonal workers in Ontario, the article will argue that while international migration can contribute to some economic growth, this growth is limited. While the standards of living of seasonal labor migrants and their households improve (and therefore there is basis for some limited optimism), few among them invest their money in productive activities. Instead, the improvements that the migrants' households experience are linked to continuous external sources of income. The article illustrates that while Canada-bound migrants experience both structural constraints related to the decline in subsistence agriculture in Mexico and those related to household composition (absence of males from the household), specific criteria used to select participants in the Canadian seasonal farm worker program compound the problems associated with the low potential among these workers to invest remittances productively.

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