E.g., 09/25/2023
E.g., 09/25/2023
Charting a New Regional Course of Action: The Complex Motivations and Costs of Central American Migration

The movement of Central Americans toward the United States has long shaped regional migration dynamics. Yet, recent changes in the volume and characteristics of those on the move have spurred renewed interest among the region’s governments in cooperating to address the root causes of irregular migration and promote safe, orderly, and regular movement.

Key Findings & Recommendations

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To inform these discussions, this report explores the factors that drive people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to consider and decide to migrate irregularly or regularly, as well as the costs and economic implications of migration for households and communities throughout the region. The findings draw from a unique in-person survey of nearly 5,000 households in 12 departments across the three countries, complemented by a nationally representative online survey with more than 6,000 individual responses.

Conducted in Spring 2021 amid the economic instability and changing migration policies brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, these surveys capture a snapshot of migration decision-making during a particularly dynamic period and point to important opportunities for regional collaboration. The report is the result of collaboration between MPI, the UN World Food Programme, and the Civic Data Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  Migration Intentions and Behaviors
A. In-Country Conditions
B. Intentions to Migrate
C. Migrant Profiles

3  The Economic Costs of Migration
A. Regular and Irregular Migration Pathways
B. Estimating the Costs of Different Migration Pathways
C. Financial Preparations for Migration

4  The Economic Impacts of Migration

5  Conclusions