Two Sources of Error in Data on Migration From Mexico to the United States in Mexican Household-Based Surveys

In a new paper in the journal Demography, Assistant Professor Erin Hamilton and Robin Savinar quantify the number of migrants from Mexico to the United States who are not counted in the common data sources on migration from Mexico to the United States. 

In Mexico, most national surveys, including the decennial census, the national employment survey, and the national demographic survey, rely on reports by survey respondents about the migration of household members to quantify migration. These household-based surveys suffer from two potential sources of error: the migration of entire households, which leaves no one behind to report their departure, and misreports, when survey respondents are unwilling or unable to accurately report household migrants. 

Hamilton and Savinar’s study uses data that tracked migrants over time to observe the size of these errors and finds that they are quite large: 36% of migrants are misreported and 15% are members of households that migrate as a unit. The study also finds that children, women, and migrants from the border region of Mexico are over-represented among those not counted and therefore underrepresented in common estimates of migration from Mexico to the United States.

Read full paper here.