4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Mexican Immigrants

A report from the research arm of Mexican financial firm BBVA Bancomer took a slightly vinegary tone in pointing out that some perceived wisdom about this group is dated or wrong. Some of their findings:

1) It’s not lack of opportunity at home that pushes Mexicans to leave; it’s a hungry job market in the United States

Researchers compared migration patterns to unemployment rates and wage differences in both countries over two decades. The results: While immigration weakly correlated to high unemployment rates in Mexico, it very strongly correlated to low unemployment in the U.S. Wage differences between the two countries, meanwhile, have been growing steadily for two decades, but migration has ebbed and waned. BBVA’s own estimates: Migration from Mexico is driven 71% by the U.S. economy, 15% by Mexico’s, and 14% by higher U.S. wages.

2) Immigrants—Mexicans in particular—keep the U.S. workforce young(er). 

On average, Mexicans are younger than other immigrant groups, and for every Mexican working in the U.S., there are four retired Americans. According to BBVA, if all immigration to the United States ceased today, by 2050, a full 40 percent of the working-age population (over age 15) would be 65 and older.

3) Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are, on average, more educated than those who stay in Mexico. 

Over the last two decades, the average education level of Mexicans workers (over age 15) who immigrate to the United States has been rising. They’re now overall more educated than those that stay at home. While the average Mexican worker has slightly more than eight years of school, those who go north have almost 10.

4) Twenty percent of Mexican-born Ph.D.’s are currently living in the United States. A Mexican with a doctorate degree is four times more likely to move to the States than one with elementary schooling, and three times as likely to head North as one with a high school education.