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Migration in the Life Course of Women in the Border City of Matamoros, Tamualipas: Links to Educational, Family, and Labor Trajectories

Raquel R. Marquez, Yolanda C. Padilla


This paper focuses on the role that migration plays in the life chances of women of very limited resources living in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, a major maquiladora site in Mexico. Due in part to the growth of the maquiladora industry, the Mexican border region experiences significant levels of migration. The maquiladora industry, which has been disproportionately geared to employment of women, has no doubt attracted female migration to the border (Pedraza 1991). Thus, in this study we are particularly concerned with understanding the dynamics of migration among women-both among women who are associated with the maquiladora industry and those who are not.

Based on rich information obtained through life histories of a group of women from different age cohorts, we find that female migration patterns seem to be consistent with major life events, although the timing of migration was not always optimal. Furthermore, important variations existed for women of different age cohorts. For the older women, schooling was generally cut off prematurely in order to start working or to migrate, this was less often the case for the younger cohorts. In most cases, however, migration did not improve the lot of these women; and, in fact, the women were often caught in a spiral of reverse mobility that took them from low educational attainment to low-level jobs to even lower level jobs with each shift in their life course.

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