Connections between U.S. Female Migration and Family Formation and Dissolution

Laura E. Hill

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Young single women from Mexico and Central America are becoming more numerous in the flow of migrants to the United States. An examination of the retrospective marital histories from the samples of the 1990 and 1995 Current Population Survey shows strong temporal connections between women’s international migration and other life-course events, namely, marriage and divorce. For single women born in Mexico or Central America, proportional hazards estimation reveals a much higher likelihood of first marriage during the first years of migration, than before migration. For all migrant women, the likelihood of experiencing a first divorce around the time of migration is greater than at any other time. These findings suggest that decisions about family formation (and dissolution) may be an integral part of the decision to migrate and settle in the United States.


Las mujeres jóvenes de México y Centroamérica han incrementado su participación en el flujo de migrantes a Estados Unidos. Un análisis retrospectivo de las historias maritales que se encuentran en las muestras de la Current Population Survey de 1990 y 1995 revela una fuerte conexión temporal de la migración internacional de mujeres con otros sucesos a lo largo de su vida, principalmente matrimonio y divorcio. Para las mujeres mexicanas y centroamericanas solteras, la estimación de riesgo proporcional muestra que hay más altas probabilidades de que contraigan un primer matrimonio durante los primeros años de la migración que antes de migrar. La probabilidad del total de las mujeres migrantes de experimentar un primer divorcio durante el tiempo de la migración es mayor que en cualquier otra ocasión. Estos resultados indican que la decisión de formar una familia (y de disolverla) puede ser una parte integral de la decisión de migrar y establecerse en Estados Unidos.

Keywords: international migration; female migration; marriage; Mexico; Central America

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Fecha de recepción: 21 de abril de 2003

Fecha de aceptación: 14 de julio de 2003

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