Survey: Why do Central Americans want to migrate?

In 2019, Interviewers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras conducted 2,400 individual in-person surveys to gather data on intentions to migrate, family, the economic situation of the household and exposure to crime, among other points. Based on these surveys and extensive data analysis, interviewers were able to distinguish the different triggers of migration in each municipality, as well as paint a general portrait of potential migrants

Where are potential migrants living? A small number of municipalities, largely urban, account for the bulk of all irregular out-migration from the Northern Triangle. While trends emerge at the national level, the factors that influence one’s decision to migrate vary dramatically by municipality.

Economic reasons are uppermost: Economic factors are the most salient in influencing migration and are cited far more often as the primary motivator for migration than victimization factors.

Youth are most likely to migrate: People from the ages of 18 to 29 report distinct levels of exposure to economic and victimization factors and react to these factors differently than adults in their decisions to migrate.

Victimization exposure: Extortion, robbery and other crimes are, in most cases, an even stronger motivator for migration than exposure to homicide.

Relatives living in U.S.: Nearly two-thirds of all survey respondents have a relative living abroad, 75 percent of those relatives have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more, and about 25 percent for over 20 yeas. However, only 3 percent of survey respondents citing reuniting with relatives as their primary reason for migration.

Report, Saliendo Adelante, is here.

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