Root Causes of Migration from Guatemala: Analysis of Subnational Trends
By Sarah Bermeo, David Leblang and Gabriela Nagle Alverio
This analysis shows that the increase in family migration from Guatemala to the United States has been disproportionately driven by people leaving departments (states) with large rural populations. Increased agricultural stress, such as that caused by recent droughts in Central America, is a key factor contributing to migration. We analyze U.S. government data on department of birth for Guatemalans apprehended at the U.S. southern border while traveling as part of a family unit from fiscal years 2012-2019. These data are linked to department-level measures of agricultural stress, size of the rural population, homicide rates, and wealth. The focus on variations in department-level characteristics allows us to evaluate the conditions present in departments of greatest out-migration. The results can inform discussions regarding root causes of Guatemalan migration and policy options.
Policy Brief, Climate & Sustainability