Migradollars and Meat: Food Expenditures in Mexican Migrant-Sending Households

Open Access
Altman, Claire Estelle
Graduate Program:
Master of Arts
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 16, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Jennifer Lynne Van Hook, Thesis Advisor
  • nutrition transition
  • remittances
  • International migration
  • mobility transition
Using the 2002 Mexican Family Life Survey, a nationally representative survey of individuals, households, and communities, I examined the relationship between receipt of remittances and exposure to US migration from relatives living in the US on the one hand, and monthly household food expenditures on the other hand, in 7,740 households. A series of OLS regression models shows that exposure to migration is associated with greater household expenditures on food each month. Additionally, migrant-sending households spend more on Westernized foods such as animal proteins and processed foods than other households in Mexico, even after controlling for household wealth, remittances, and household composition. The results further suggest that the relationship between migration and food expenditures operates primarily through the transmission of American ideas about food consumption rather than through remittance income. Food expenditures were more strongly associated with having relatives in the US than with remittance income; this was particularly the case for households with the lowest wealth. Among the wealthiest households, those without migration exposure expend more each month on food. Overall, the results from the analyses provide consistent support for the ideation mechanism, but inconsistent support for the income mechanism. Households with relatives in the US may receive remitted money, but dietary preferences appear to be more important for stimulating changes in food expenditures.