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Education and Migration in a Border City

Leticia Fernández, Jon Amastae, Cheryl Howard


Major demographic processes (fertility, mortality and migration) are both causes and consequences of future and previous processes. Demographers in border locations have special methodological challenges and usually face more rapidly changing dynamics than other locations. Migration is a process most difficult to both measure and understand; unlike birth and death, it does not happen to everyone, but is selective. Age, education, health, wealth, occupation, gender and family composition all contribute to making a person more or less likely to move from one place to another or remain where they are, as are a host of other factors. This study attempts to sort out some of these factors, using primarily Census data from 1990 and 2000. We began with the local concern that El Paso's persistently low indices of education and income result from an outflow of the more educated segments of the community. However, our findings suggest that the relationship between migration and education is not linear. Moreover, other variables such a language, birthplace, gender and ethnicity appear to be as or more important in predicting whether a person will stay or leave than educational attainment. The characteristics of new arrivals also affect the composition of a population at the aggregate level. As the population of Hispanics disperse throughout the country, a process rapidly underway as evidenced by the 2000 Census, our findings may have implications for many other communities. A more complete understanding of the causes and consequences of migration will require a combination of both qualitative and quantitative analysis.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229