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We combine data from the Latin American Migration Project and the Mexican Migration Project to estimate models predicting the likelihood of taking of first and later trips to the United States from five nations: Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Peru. The models test specific hypotheses about the effects of social capital on international migration and how these effects vary with respect to contextual factors. Our findings confirm the ubiquity of migrant networks and the universality of social capital effects throughout Latin America. They also reveal how the sizes of these effects are not uniform across settings. Social capital operates more powerfully on first as opposed to later trips and interacts with the cost of migration. In addition, effects are somewhat different when considering individual social capital (measuring strong ties) and community social capital (measuring weak ties). On first trips, the effect of strong ties in promoting migration increases with distance whereas the effect of weak ties decreases with distance. On later trips, the direction of effects for both individual and community social capital is negative for long distances but positive for short distances.


This article was originally published in Hindawi International Journal of Population Research Volume 2011 (2011).

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