Among the challenges faced by Latin America at the onset of the 21st century is the increase in crime and violence that began in the mid-1980s, and which, to one degree or another, has afflicted most countries in the region. In this study we explore the potential implications of the upsurge in crime on migration by testing the hypothesis that crime victimization in Latin America increases the probability that people have given serious thought to the prospect of migrating with their families to the United States. Using Latinobarometro public opinion surveys of approximately 49,000 respondents residing in 17 countries in 2002, 2003, and 2004, the results of a Hierarchical Generalized Linear Model found that, net of individual and country-level control variables, the probability of seriously considering family migration to the United States was around 30 percent higher among respondents who reported that they or a member of their family was a victim of a crime sometime during the year prior to the survey. Evidence that victimization promotes the propensity to emigrate is a finding that contributes to an understanding of the transnational consequences of the increase in crime in Latin America, and adds a new variable to the inventory of factors that encourage people to migrate to the United States.
May 11, 2010
Crime and Migration in Latin America