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The Labor Market Outcomes of Indigenous Oaxacan Migrants to the Mexico City Metropolitan Area

Authors: Kevin Mason*, University of Colorado Boulder
Topics: Latin America, Indigenous Peoples, Migration
Keywords: Mexico, Indigenous, Internal Migration, Labor Market
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Mexico’s indigenous population faces discrimination and marginalization despite the state’s purported efforts to recognize and assist these groups. Indigenous Mexicans struggle to navigate the ethnic hierarchies placing them at the bottom of society, especially when migrating internally to urban areas where they are a smaller proportion of the population. This research focuses on the labor market outcomes of indigenous migrants from Oaxaca to the Mexico City metropolitan area. Using data from the 2010 Mexican census, I use linear and logistic regression models to examine the ways the wages and labor force participation rates of indigenous migrants compare to native, non-indigenous residents in the destination and to indigenous and non-indigenous people in the origin when controlling for educational attainment and occupation. This study builds upon existing work on labor market outcomes of Latin American indigenous populations by placing more focus on migration and using a more nuanced understanding of indigenous identity to untangle and clarify the connection between migration status, indigeneity, and labor market outcomes. Results show the Oaxacan indigenous population in Mexico City is unique among the groups studied as the wage returns for higher educational attainment are often relatively small and insignificant, suggesting these migrants tend to find employment in the same low-wage sectors regardless of educational attainment. Results on wage returns for employment in higher-skilled or higher-status occupations are mixed for indigenous migrants. Migrant men in high-skilled blue-collar sectors earn significantly more than their low-skilled counterparts, while the opposite is true for migrant women.

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