E.g., 07/30/2014
E.g., 07/30/2014

Demographic Trends in Mexico: The Implications for Skilled Migration

October 2008

Demographic Trends in Mexico: The Implications for Skilled Migration

Mexico experienced several decades of high population growth toward the end of the 20th century. This growth, coupled with increased female labor force participation, coincided with substantial emigration to the United States between 1970 and 2000. Overall population growth, however, is now slowing; by about 2030, it is expected that the size of the working-age population will begin to decrease. The slowing population growth, coupled with economic developments and changes in U.S. immigration policy (including stricter border control), has resulted in a slight slowdown in Mexican immigration to the United States relative to the 1995 to 2000 period.

Although Mexico is best known in the United States as a source of low-skilled immigrants, it also provides a rapidly growing flow of professionals. In fact, the skill level of Mexican immigrants is gradually rising, with an increasing proportion of U.S.-bound immigrants educated to the equivalent of high-school level and beyond.

This change is driven in part by educational developments in Mexico itself. Mexico’s supply of educated individuals is growing almost five times faster than overall population growth despite the fact that domestic opportunities for professionals are not expanding as quickly. This creates an incentive for skilled Mexicans to migrate to the United States. Projections suggest that the domestic supply of professionals will exceed demand until about 2025, after which demand will outstrip supply and a shortfall of highly skilled individuals is likely to emerge. Until that point, however, any increase in international demand for highly skilled workers could find a swift response from Mexican professionals.

Ultimately these trends have more consequence for Mexico than for the United States. Although highly skilled Mexican immigrants make up only a small proportion of professionals in the United States, their numbers are equivalent to 8 percent of all professionals living in Mexico. Emigration has reduced pressure on the Mexican labor market, but the Mexican economy’s inability to create sufficient opportunities to retain its most educated individuals may have a detrimental effect on long-term growth.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Demographic Change and the New Era of Mexican Migration

III. Skilled Migration

IV. Potential Migration of Skilled Mexicans

V. Summary of Findings