Half a Century of Migration and Family Formation in Latin America and the Caribbean

Andrés Felipe Castro Torres, University of Pennsylvania


Migration and family formation dynamics were fundamental factors in the societal transformation of Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries during the second half of the twentieth century. A holistic understanding of how these two demographic phenomena relate to one another and how this association is embedded in gender and class systems is needed to understand modern societies. The first chapter of this dissertation lays out the theoretical premises of a gender- and class-based analysis of these dynamics. The following chapters use quantitative information to examine family formation trajectories among migrants from three different perspectives: immigration, transnational, and internal. Family formation paths for individuals of age 39 and above are reconstructed using the National Survey of Family Growth in chapter 2 (immigration), the Mexican and Latin American Migration projects in chapter 3 (transnational), and the LAC Demographic and Health Surveys in chapter 4 (internal). Together, these sources cover 12 LAC countries and the three main destinations of LAC international migrants: United States, Canada and Spain. A typology of family formation trajectories is built for each of these three data sources and the distribution of men and women in each typology is computed by age at migration and socioeconomic status. I termed these distributions family profiles. The heterogeneity in family profiles across the three perspectives is examined considering the major societal and economic changes that occurred during this time period in the region. This joint examination shows that social class and gender differences are the primary basis of distinction in family profiles and that migration constitute a secondary source of disruption. Put formally, the processes by which family formation trajectories unfold among migrants are segmented. This does not mean migration is powerless in terms of triggering social change. Migration is associated with change in family formation dynamics in the origin and reception societies; yet, its potential is modest, and it will hardly take the shape of a revolutionary leap.

Subject Area

Demography|Sociology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Castro Torres, Andrés Felipe, "Half a Century of Migration and Family Formation in Latin America and the Caribbean" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI13895681.