Migration and household characteristics


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Migration and household characteristics return migrants to Puerto Rico
Physical Description:
viii, 127 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Medrano, Lydia E., 1947-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Return migration -- Puerto Rico   ( lcsh )
Emigration and immigration -- Puerto Rico   ( lcsh )
Economic conditions.TKR -- Puerto Rico   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1987.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 120-127).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lydia E. Medrano.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 000947194
notis - AEQ9180
oclc - 16865126
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Full Text








I wish to thank Dr. Charles H. Wood for his guidance

throughout the preparation of this dissertation. I am also

grateful to Dr. Hernan Vera and Dr. Helen I. Safa for their

helpful advice and comments. The Center for Latin American

Studies, under a grant from the Tinker Foundation, awarded me

a fellowship to assist the conduct of this research in

Puerto Rico.

The encouragement provided by Dr Joseph S. Vandiver and

Mrs. Agatha Ogazon is also appreciated. I wish to extend my

thanks to Dr. Constance Shehan for her participation in my

committee, and to Godfrey Hinds, Luis Garcia Luina and

William Caudill for their assistance.

I am deeply appreciative of the patience

and understanding of Hector, Aniria and Hector, Jr. whose

support enabled me to complete this task.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................

LIST OF TABLES ....................... ...........

ABSTRACT ......................






I INTRODUCTION ................................

Plan of this Work ........... .... ..........
Puerto Rico .................. ....

II REVIEW OF LITERATURE .......................

Theoretical Frameworks in the Study of .....
Migration and Return Migration
The Impact of Return Migration .............
Return Migration: Puerto Rico..............

III RESEARCH DESIGN ............... .......

Source of Data and Unit of Analysis .........
Field Work ............... ....... .........
Analysis of Data and Methodology ............

IV THE MIGRATION PROCESS .......................

Puerto Rican Migration to the United States..
Puerto Rico's Return Migration ..............


General Characteristics .....................
Socioeconomic Characteristics ...............
Income Differentials ........................
The Relationship Between Income and Selected.
Socioeconomic Characteristics of Return
Migrant Households


Remittances .................... .... ...... .... 89
Assets of Return Migrants in Puerto Rico ..... 91
The Adjustment of Return Migrants ............ 94
The Impact of Migration on Mayaguez ......... 100

VII SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ..................... 102

APPENDIX ...... ......... ..................... .... 113

BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................... ...... 120

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................ 128



Table 1. 1 Population Growth: Puerto Rico, 1899 ... 10
to 1980

Table 1. 2 Fertility Rates and Natural Population ... 10
Growth, Puerto Rico: 1900-09 to 1960-1979

Table 1. 3 Puerto Rico's Net Emigration from 1900 ... 11
to 1980

Table 4. 1 Age of the Head of the Household at the .. 49
Time of Migration

Table 4. 2 Migration Motive ......................... 49

Table 4. 3 Length of Time Spent Abroad, Return ...... 53

Table 4. 4 Employment Status Before Return .......... 56

Table 4. 5 Motive for Return to Puerto Rico ......... 57

Table 5. 1 Marital Status of Return Migrants and .... 61

Table 5. 2 Size of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant .... 62

Table 5. 3 Educational Level of Return and .......... 64
Nonmigrant Heads of Household

Table 5. 4 Skills of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant ... 67
Heads of Household

Table 5. 5 Employment Status of Return Migrant and ... 70
Nonmigrant Heads of Household

Table 5. 6 Reason for Last Change in Job, Return ..... 71
Migrant and Nonmigrant Heads of Household

Table 5. 7

Table 5. 8

Table 5. 9

Table 5.10

Table 5.11

Table 5.12

Table 5.13

Table 5.14

Table 6. 1

Table 6. 2

Table 6. 3

Table 6. 4

Most Common Reason for Changing Jobs, ..... 73
Return Migrant and Nonmigrant Heads of

Lifetime Number of Occupations of Return .. 74
Migrant and Nonmigrant Heads of Household

Occupation of Return Migrant and .......... 76
Nonmigrant Heads of Household

Annual Income of Return Migrant and ...... 77
Nonmigrant Households

Economic Support Received by Return ....... 80
Migrant and Nonmigrant Households

Multiple Classification Analysis: ......... 83
Differences in Annual Family Income, Return
Migrants and Nonmigrants, By Sex, Controlling
for Education of the Head of the Household

Correlation Between Income and Selected ... 85
Socioeconomic Variables

Summary Statistics: Dependent Variable .... 86

Return Migrant Remittances Sent to Puerto.. 89
Rico by Purpose

Zero Order Correlation: Remittances and ... 90
Selected Socioeconomic Variables

Moving Expenses of Return Migrants ........ 92

Strategies Devised By Return Migrant and .. 96
Nonmigrant Families to Cope with the
Household's Economic Situation

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Lydia E. Medrano

May 1987

Chairman: Charles H. Wood, Ph.D.
Major Department: Sociology

This study evaluates the impact of migration and

return migration on households in Puerto Rico. Interviews

carried out in the city of Mayaguez generated data on the

socioeconomic characteristics of return migrant heads of

household and the domestic units to which they belong. The

sample included return migrants with children enrolled in

school in Puerto Rico and a comparable sample of nonmigrant

households. The life histories of three families guided the

formulation of the questionnaire. For migrants, the ques-

tionnaire gathered quantitative and qualitative information

regarding three stages of the migration process: pre-migra-

tion, residence abroad, and the return migrant situation on

the island.

Results show that economic reasons motivated the

migration of Puerto Ricans to New York. However, our data

question the importance of economic factors as the most

important explanation of return migration. The socio-

economic profile of respondents in the sample indicate that

approximately one third of return migrant households were

headed by a female. Almost half of them reported that

change in marital status motivated their return to Puerto

Rico. Returnees also expressed fear of violence in New York

and health problems as the main reason for returning.

Return migrants have slightly lower annual family

incomes compared to nonmigrants. Female-headed households

are the most disadvantaged in Puerto Rico. Data on the

children of return migrants reared in New York also document

the difficulties many children confront in the school system

in Puerto Rico.

Additional findings show returnees accumulated few

resources during the migration period. Most arrived in

Puerto Rico hoping that relatives would help them until they

relocated in Mayaguez. These results provide little evidence

that return migration has a positive socioeconomic impact on

Mayaguez, or on Puerto Rico.

We conclude that return migrants in this study belong

to a population bypassed by the development process in

Puerto Rico. After their return, migrants found that the

same industrial system that motivated their emigration from

the island provided equally limited opportunities when they

returned home. Given Puerto Rico's present economic situa-

tion, the future of other migrants that intend to return is




Puerto Rico has undergone substantial demographic

change during this century. The island's population size and

structure have been affected by the migratory movements that

began in the 1940s, and that continue today. Hundreds of

thousands of Puerto Ricans migrated in the 1950's (more than

500,000) and in the 1960's (about 200,000), and settled in

the United States, particularly New York City. After 1965,

a reverse migration trend assumed increasing importance.

Return migration is important for Puerto Rico for a

number of reasons. First, the migration flow adds

inhabitants to the already heavily populated island.

Second, Puerto Rico is having difficulties absorbing its

local labor supply. Third, the influx of population entails

social adjustments and requires the provision of new

service facilities. Special school programs for the so-

called "Newyoricans," housing, and the expansion of public

services are examples of such services.

Mayaguez, the site of this study, is located in the

west coast of the island. This municipality has a land area

of 77 square miles (200 square kilometers) and, according to

the 1980 census, a population of 96,193. Mayaguez used to

be the third largest municipality in Puerto Rico. However,

as of the 1970 census, Mayaguez registered one of the lowest

changes in population (2.4%) in Puerto Rico. Between 1970

and 1980 the population increased by 12% (United States

Census Bureau, 1980). Even though Mayaguez is the seventh

largest municipality in terms of the size of its population,

it continues to be the largest and most predominant urban

center in the western region of the island.

This research focuses on the impact of migration and

the return on the individual migrant and the migrant

household, as well as on the receiving community. Relying on

data derived from a survey of 120 households, 70 return

migrants and 50 nonmigrants, this study analyzes a number of

variables. The implications of migration for social mobility

will be examined by analyzing achievement over time in terms

of education, skills, occupation and material possessions

such as capital and property. Finally, the adjustment of

returnees and their families will be explored in terms of

satisfactions derived from living in Puerto Rico and the

strategies devised in adjusting to the new environment.

Unlike other studies, we will focus attention on the return

migrant family in the childrearing stage.

This research contributes to the understanding of

migration and its consequences. From a practical stand-

point, it provides a source of information on some of the

characteristics of this segment of the population in Puerto

Rico. This study also allows an understanding of the impact

of migration on individuals and their families in order to

formulate policies to deal with return migrants to Puerto

Rico. To my knowledge, this study is the first to deal with

the reintegration of returnees into Puerto Rican society.

Plan of this Work

This chapter is followed by an identification of the

the setting. Historical aspects of Puerto Rico are presented

as background information. Relevant literature from which

this work originated and which supports it, is reviewed in

Chapter II. Chapter III specifies the objectives of this

study, sources of information and methodological considera-

tions relevant to this research.

Chapter IV provides a socioeconomic profile of migrants

during two stages of the migration process, namely, pre-

migration and while residing in the United States. In

addition, it includes return migrants' perceptions of the

process of migration, including the return.

A descriptive analysis of the Puerto Rican return

migrants and their household are presented in Chapter V.

The return migrant sample is compared to a sample of

nonmigrants in order to examine the impact of migration and

return migration on the return migrants' socioeconomic

characteristics. Also, income differentials and the

relationship between income and selected socioeconomic

variables are statistically analyzed. Chapter VI attempts

to assess the benefits of migration for the individual and

the receiving community after the return. Chapter VII

presents a summary of the findings of this study.

Puerto Rico

The territory of Puerto Rico has 3,435 square miles

and 3.2 million inhabitants. Puerto Rico is a relatively

small island with a large population, a shortage of natural

resources and a precarious agricultural base. A brief review

of the major developments in Puerto Rico's history is

relevant to an interpretation of the major sociodemographic

phenomena that have occurred during the present century.

Political Aspects

After four centuries of Spanish occupation, and as a

result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was annexed

by the United States under the Treaty of Paris of 1898. The

Foraker Act of 1900 established a popularly elected lower

house with a nominated executive council. Although at least

five members of the house had to be Puerto Rican-born, the

control of the island's government remained in the hands of

U.S. officials nominated by the President of the United


In 1917, the Jones Act recognized Puerto Rico as a

territory of the United States and granted Puerto Ricans

U.S. citizenship. This act did not offer autonomy to the

island and, even though a legislature was established, the

principal executive officers were still appointed by the

President of the United States. Also, Puerto Ricans were not

eligible to vote in U.S. Congressional elections. At the

same time taxes were not levied on the population. Puerto

Rico was relieved of the costs of its defense but its

citizens were liable for military service.

The Popular Party, organized by the Puerto Rican Luis

Munoz Marin, won the election of 1941. Yet, it was not

until 1949 that a Puerto Rican was elected governor, and

that the idea of a "commonwealth" came about. The "common-

wealth" status seemed economically attractive to many but

the Spanish term "Estado Libre Asociado" was ambiguous.

Puerto Rico was not free in the sense of sovereign status,

and the word "associated" did not accurately describe the

existing relationship between island and mainland.

Opposition parties in Puerto Rico believed that

Munoz's ideas of "commonwealth" would not survive. The

leading opposition party argued that Puerto Ricans did not

have full rights of citizenship because they could not

participate in presidential or congressional elections.

However, Puerto Ricans served in the U.S. Armed Forces. On

the basis of these contentions statehood status was sought

for Puerto Rico. The Independence Party, on the other hand,

advocated complete separation from the United States,

claiming that the island had remained little more than a

colony. Separatists argued against U.S. business interests

in Puerto Rico which would, according to them, obliterate

its Spanish inheritance (Mitchell, 1967). Culture and

nationalism were the major issues of the Independence Party.

In 1967 a plebiscite was held on the status of Puerto

Rico. The "commonwealth" status was ratified but the status

dilemma remained, causing continuous dissention even within

political parties. The three major parties divided and new

parties emerged. By 1980 there were a total of seven

political parties presenting candidates in that year's


Socioeconomic Aspects

Puerto Rico's trade was limited to Spain during most

of the 19th century. By the end of Spanish rule, Spain was

purchasing one quarter of the island's exports, and Cuba

nearly another quarter. United States, France, and Germany

each accounted for 10%. Coffee was the leading export,

followed by sugar.

The economy was mainly one of subsistence. Large sugar

and coffee estates were administered by a small class of

wealthy landowners. Most of the population consisted of

peasant landowners (jibaros) located in the mountain

rural areas, and laborers (jornaleros) on the sugar

plantations of the coastal lowlands. The remaining segments

consisted of the Spanish military and civil bureaucracy, as

well as merchants and artisans.

Following the 1898 U.S. annexation, Puerto Rico

experienced economic development over a relatively short

period of time. San Juan, Ponce, and Mayaguez became main

centers of commerce and export trade. A dependent trade

relationship developed which established a mercantile tariff

policy that limited Puerto Rico to buying and selling in the

U.S. market. The sugar cartel of the early 20th century

(Mass, 1977) established a monoculture system. The coffee

industry, as well as other agricultural crops such as tobacco

and citrus, were left unprotected and without a market. The

single crop export economy prevented trade agreements with

other Latin American or any other nation.

After the 1930 depression, a series of reforms were

initiated. The Agrarian Reform of 1941 established a 500-

acre limit on land ownership. In 1946 a program of

Industrial Development, the so called "Operation Bootstrap,"

was initiated under the Commonwealth Economic Development

Administration (FOMENTO). A special tax arrangement was

devised in order to encourage foreign private capital to

invest in industrial production on the island.

These transformations not only affected agricultural

production, but also had an impact on peasant life and on

social structure. Income per capital increased dramatically

from $121 in 1940 to $585 in 1960, reaching $900 in 1965

(Mitchell, 1967 : 110). A high level of mechanization was

introduced, a factor that inhibited the development of a

small-farmer class in sugar areas given, the large

investments of capital needed for the existing level of

mechanization. The nonagricultural sector gained precedence

over the agricultural one. These changes brought about a

shift of labor from agricultural to nonagricultural

occupations. Also, the number of women in the labor force

increased. Women were employed by industry; the home

neddlework industry experienced a decline (Safa, 1984).

Cohen (1970) regards the Puerto Rican experience a

"development paradox." The development efforts produced a

progressive and relatively high-income economy. Industrial

dispersion was encouraged by offering longer tax exemptions

to those industries investing in less developed regions of

the island. Nevertheless, unemployment continued. The

volume of job opportunities created was not sufficient to

reduce the level of unemployment. The exodus of labor from

the agricultural sector exacerbated the employment


Labor shortages have affected agricultural production

in Puerto Rico. From an annual yield of over a million tons

in the early 1960s, sugar production dropped to 477,000 tons

in 1969. In 1970, Puerto Rico was barely able to meet a

third of the United States quota of 1.3 million tons.

By 1956 most employment activity in Puerto Rico

involved factory work. Many of the new job opportunities

went to female workers in industries such as textiles,

electronic assembly, and shoe manufacturing. The wage

difference was such that those willing to do agricultural

work were no longer attracted to it. Many male workers

simply dropped out of the labor market (Cohen, 1970 : 6) or

migrated. Since factory jobs provided year round employment

and favored female workers, women became more important

breadwinners in the family than men with only seasonal

agricultural employment.

Demographic Aspects

The population of Puerto Rico increased 2.8 times

between the years 1899 and 1970. Table 1.1 shows that the

rate of population growth steadily increased until 1940, and

then declined during the 1950-60 period to the lowest rate

of 0.6%. Since 1960 it began to increase again to a high

of 2.7. After 1975, the growth fell to 1.7 a year.

Table 1.1 Population Growth: Puerto Rico, 1899 to 1980.

Year Population Annual Growth Rate
(in thousands) (Percent)




The major demographic changes that occurred between

1899 and 1940 can be explained by the levels of fertility

and mortality. During that period mortality rates rapidly

declined from 25.3 to 19.6 deaths per one thousand

inhabitants (Table 1.2), while the rates of fertility

experienced slow declines, from 40.5 to 39.6.

Table 1.2 Fertility Rates and Natural Population Growth,
Puerto Rico: 1900-1909 to 1960-79.

Period Fertility Rate Mortality Rate Natural Growth

1900-09 40.5 25.3 15.2
1910-19 40.4 24.0 16.4
1920-29 39.3 22.1 17.2
1930-39 39.6 19.6 20.0
1949-49 40.7 14.5 26.2
1950-59 35.0 8.0 27.0
1960-69 29.4 6.8 22.6
1970-79 23.7 6.4 17.0

The decline in population growth after 1950 was due in

part to reductions in levels of fertility and, more

important, to the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United

States. Myers (1967 : 426) points out that without the loss

attributed to migration the island's population would have

increased by 27.5%. That figure excludes the births that

would have occurred to migrants if they had remained in

Puerto Rico.

The significance of migration in the demographic

changes of Puerto Rico began in the 1950s. Table 1.3 shows

that the peak net migration (237,000 persons) to the United

States was in the 1950-54 period. Net migration was always

positive until the 1970-80 period.

Table 1.3 Puerto Rico's Net Emigration from 1900 to 1980.

Period Net Emigration

1900-09 2,000
1910-19 11,000
1920-29 42,000
1930-39 18,000
1940-44 16,000
1945-49 135,000
1950-54 237,000
1955-59 193,000
1960-64 58,000
1965-69 87,000
1970-74 -120,000*
1975-80 16,292*

*Net immigration.

Migration is associated with the economic changes in

the island as well as in mainland. During periods of

recessions in the United States the rate of migration from

Puerto Rico declines and some return migration occurs

(Lopez, 1980). In the 1930s, migration considerably declined

and many Puerto Ricans returned to the island due to the

prevailing conditions in the United States economy.

Similarly, there was a slowdown in migration during the

Second World War and since 1965.

According to the censuses, 34,000 individuals returned

to Puerto Rico between 1955 and 1960, 225,000 between 1965

and 1970, and 144,506 during the 1970 decade. Due to the

present economic situation in the United States, it is

expected that the return movement will continue. However,

given the economic situation in the island, it is uncertain

that return migrants will stay in Puerto Rico.


There is a general agreement in the migration

literature that differences in social and economic

development lead to the movement of people within and

between nations. Most studies in this field have devised

sets of "push" and "pull" factors to which migrants are

presumed to respond (Lee, 1966). The push factors most

frequently reported are population pressure, land scarcity,

unemployment and underemployment (Evans and James, 1979;

Masnick, 1968). Commonly cited pull factors include wage

differentials, other economic advantages, social benefits,

and the expectation of upward social mobility (Rogers,


There are divergencies in explaining individual

responses to the circumstances that motivate migration, and

with regard to the adjustment or adaptation of the migrants

at the place of destination. Few studies deal with return

migration. Diverse conceptions of the nature of migration,

and difficulties stemming from the sources of data,

condition the lines of inquiry on this topic and pose

problems in developing a systematic approach to the study of

migration (Mangalam and Schwarzweller, 1968).

Theoretical Frameworks in the Study of Migration
and Return Migration

A review of the available literature shows that most

approaches to migration fall into one of three categories.

Labor mobility studies, generally developed by economists

focus on labor reallocation in response to market forces

(Rothenberg, 1977; Vanderkamp, 1971). Wage is the price of

labor, and labor migration is seen a direct response to the

average real-wage differential between areas. The volume of

migration is directly proportional to differences in wage

levels. Interpreted as a special case of the microeconomic

theory of consumer choice, the underlying hypothesis derived

from this framework is that the redistribution of population

among regions (within a country and between nations) is the

result of the perception by individual migrants (net of

cost) of the differences in economic opportunities between

places. It is implied that individuals are rational and, as

such, they make decisions in terms of utility maximation.

A second approach deals with migration in terms of the

selectivity of migrants. Attempts are made to determine

characteristics that differentiate migrants from

nonmigrants. These include economic background, racial and

ethnic features, educational attainment, occupational level,

life cycle stage, etc. (Beshers and Nishiura, 1961; Leslie

and Richardson, 1961). In this type of research, the

concern is shifted from the context in which migration

occurs to the identification of who the migrants are.

A third category of research incorporates the

traditionally "push-pull" studies noted above. A group of

studies takes into consideration characteristics of both the

sending and the receiving areas. Unlike the labor mobility

studies, however, the perspective does not insist that the

factors involved in migration be evaluated in solely

economic terms. The "push-pull" approach provides an

opportunity for greater complexity of explanations. The

"push-pull" approach and the macroeconomic framework share

basic premises. Both concentrate on the decision-making

process of the prospective migrant. The migrant is viewed as

evaluating alternative prospects and making a rational

decision on the basis of the available information.

Critics of the microeconomic framework point out that

it fails to grasp the underlying causes and consequences of

migration. By concentrating on the behavior of individual

actors, little attention is given to the macroeconomic

conditions that compel the decision to move (Wood, 1981 :

8). Thus, the volume of migration from the Third World to

developed countries is explained by individual cost/benefit

decision overlooking the development strategies of these

countries which have accentuated regional imbalances (Amin,

1974; Singer, 1981). Under these circumstances, the notion

that free market forces operate to achieve an optimal

distribution of the population seems unreal. The increasing

socioeconomic and demographic distortion observed in many

Third World countries question the microeconomic argument

(Wood, 1982).

In order to deal with the limitation of applying the

available frameworks to the Third World, Latin American

social scientists approach the study of population movements

from a historical-structural perspective. Emphasis is given

to the class structure in the dynamic context of history

(Wood, 1982). According to this perspective, the mobility

of labor at a particular historical moment is conceptualized

as an integral part of the structural transformations at the

broader societal level. The explanation of migration as

individual behavior is considered an overly narrow approach

that omits the broader context within which migration


The microeconomic analysis also overlooks household

behavior in responding to structural change. According to

Wood (1982), population movements in rural Latin America can

be better explained by analyzing household behavior in

coping with changes in the agrarian structure. The strategy

devised at the household level include shifts in the

division of labor by sex or in patterns of consumption,

adjustments in fertility and mortality, engagement in other

economic activities, as well as the temporary or seasonal

migration. This perspective suggests that it is necessary to

construct a framework that takes into consideration the

phenomena of migration at multiple levels of analysis.

Dependency theorists argue that advanced capitalist

societies maintain their position of power by exploiting

peripheral or satellite societies (see Chilcote, 1974, for a

review of the dependency literature). Thus, the

circumstances under which migration occurs is, in most

respects, a consequence of the core-periphery (or

metropolis-satellite) relationship at the international and

intranational levels. As such, labor migration is controlled

according to the needs for labor of the more developed

societies. The "brain drain," or flow of professionals from

peripheral to core societies, is a situation that can also be

explained according to the advocates of the dependency

paradigm, by the imbalances and the condition and dependency

of poor nations (Portes, 1976).

Women in Migration

The bulk of migration literature concentrates on men's

labor force participation and the problems that they

confront as migrants. Few studies deal with women, and much

less is said about the return migrant women. In part this is

due to the fact that, at the international level, most

migrants are men, with some exceptions. Since 1930, with

variations over time, more than half of all immigrants to

the United States have been female (Houstoun, et al., 1984).

This is mainly due to family unification policies which

allow immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to enter the

country. Among these immigrants are postwar flows of wives

and children of U.S. serviceman. About two-thirds of the

immigration to the United States after World War I

consisted of women and children. Also, rural to urban

migration within countries in Latin America is characterized

by a high proportion of females, mostly from the lower


Researchers generally agree that female migrants have

been neglected by research and policy makers. Morokvasic

(1984 : 899) criticizes the fact that women have been repre-

sented in the migration literature in a stereotypical

manner, as "passive dependents." Whether women work in a

factory or as seamstress at home, they have been assigned

the status of dependent family members. Their role of

housewife-mother implies that they are subsidiary workers

and that their wages as complementary income only.

Women migrate for marriage purposes, or to follow

their husbands. This, according to Morokvasic (1984), can be

or may become migration for economic reasons. Women may join

the husband as a joint strategy to improve their economic

situation. Independent migration patterns of women have

been overlooked. Female migration may occur for economic

and noneconomic factors.

Few studies deal with the migration of women as

strategies for survival and mobility. Trager (1984) found

that urban migration in the Phillippines is increasingly

female dominated. The economic strategies of rural families

play an important role in migration. Young, single women

migrate from rural areas in order to help the family with

income and other resources. Their remittances can be

essential to the support of the rest of the family. It has

been noted that daughters are usually "more willing and

faithful than sons in sharing their savings with the family"

(cited in Trager, 1984 : 1274). Women also migrate to

achieve upward mobility through job opportunities and better

education. Women with limited access to resources in their

place of origin may be obliged to migrate. Trager urges the

study of family strategies that lead to patterns of women


Noneconomic factors in a country or society may have a

sex-selective impact on emigration. It has been observed

that certain categories of women seem more mobile than

others. Marginalized women in a given society may be under

pressure to leave. This may be the case of widows and


There is a tendency for migrant women to adapt more

quickly to the new environment if they work (Pessar, 1984).

As rural women move from a traditional setting to an urban

context, their attitudes are said to change. Their

participation in the labor force makes them more indepen-

dent, and they assume greater power in the household's

decision-making process. Castles and Kosack (1973) assert

that European women demand emancipation from their

traditional subordinate role with the acquisition of some

economic independency. Pessar's (1984) study of 55 Dominican

immigrant families and 16 female garment workers observed

that most migrant households moved away from patriarchal

relations and values towards more egalitarian allocation of

authority and of household tasks. Women improved their

status in the household as work heightened their self-esteem

as wives and mothers. Their income contribution in the

household also provided them greater participation in the

household decision-making. Pessar stressed that employment

did not provide women with a new status that challenged or

subordinated their primary identities as wives and mothers.

On the contrary, migration and the experience of employment

and residence in the United States allowed women to redefine

their roles as wives and mothers in a more satisfying manner

than before.

Safa (1976) says that, although work may bring more

independence to women, it has also created a dual burden for

many. Working women tend to place their family roles before

their job. They continue to be primarily responsible for the

care of the home and children, and their job is only another

way of helping the family's economy (Blake, 1974; Safa,

1976). According to Safa, industrialization and economic

growth in Puerto Rico resulted in the increased participa-

tion of women in the labor force. During the early phase of

industrialization women were employed at a rate nearly equal

to men. In 1970 they constituted 48.6% of the manufacturing

labor force. Puerto Rico's industrialization relied on light

industry (i.e., textiles and clothing). Women came to

provide a cheap labor force (Safa, 1984a). In industries

where women predominated, the salary differential between

men and women was as high as 30.3%.

The traditional subordination of women limits their

autonomy, self-confidence and freedom, reducing them to the

domestic sphere (Safa, 1976 : 81). Extended family systems

tend to protect women from the alienation experienced by

those in the isolated nuclear family. Their authority is in

the home vis-a-vis the children. Particularly, lower class

women enjoy a strong sense of solidarity among female kin

and neighbors.

Traditional values regulating female behavior are

significant barriers to women's participation in the labor

force, in politics and in other public spheres (Jacquette,

1976). Harkess (1973) found that traditional ideals among

Latin American women are surprisingly persistent, at least

in certain aspects of life connected with the family, work,

education and politics. Chaney (1979 : 11) concludes that

Latin American women will probably not replicate United

States or Western European patterns of women's liberation.

Return Migration

Although it is commonly assumed that migrants rarely

return to the place of origin, more attention is now given

to return migration streams. At the theoretical level,

return migration is also linked to economic factors. It has

been observed that during periods of recession in a country

the rate of immigration declines. At the same time the rate

of outmigration tends to increase, and streams of migrants

returning to their place of origin is also observed. Studies

show a relationship between employment opportunities at home

and rates of return migration (Toren, 1976; Lianos, 1975).

Using time series data for various periods since World War

II, Lianos found that rates of return from Germany to Greece

were related to differences in the index of unemployment.

Toren (1976) found that, controlling for socioeconomic

status, the decision of the more successful Israeli

returnees were primarily influenced by occupational

opportunities at home, while the less successful were

primarily motivated by patriotic attachments and loyalty of

their home country.

While returnees may be attracted to occupational

opportunities in their homeland, according to Vanderkamp

(1971), they are not influenced in the same way as new

migrants are. Noneconomic factors are widely mentioned in

return migration literature. In many cases, noneconomic

factors are the primary reasons for return. The most

frequently cited noneconomic considerations are family

related concerns (Perkinson, 1980; Da Vanzo, 1976), such as

the desire to be in the company of kin and friends, elderly

parents, and so on. Social and cultural advantages are found

to outweigh the economic costs.

Other researchers have questioned the importance

given to "cultural" variables. Gmelch (1980 : 139) points

out that migration for cultural reasons is unlikely in the

poor developing nations where returnees would not find

adequate employment and a comfortable standard of living.

Only in the hinterlands of industrialized countries are "the

economic costs of return small enough to be affordable." The

authors suggest a cautious interpretation since the economic

dimension may be more important than many returnees are

willing to admit.

It is important to note that return migrants are

usually acting on better information than "nonreturn", or

first time migrants, (Lee, 1966; Miller, 1973). With the

exception of those who left at an early age, potential

return migrants have more accurate knowledge of their place

of origin through contacts with friends and relatives who

inform them about the area. Thus, their decision is more


The vast literature on selectivity suggests that

migrants are highly motivated people and that, in the short

or the long run, they will experience some sort of

improvement. However, it has been observed that return

migrant streams include successful people as well as

individuals that have been "failures" (Jansen, 1970;

Perkinson, 1980). Many may have returned because they failed

to adjust to the place of destination. In Switzerland, for

example, some Spanish, Portuguese, Yugoslav, and Tunisian

farm workers, finding it impossible to adapt to the new

environment, returned home within a few days of arrival

(Castles and Kosak, 1973). Some migrants return only after

realizing that their dreams will not come true. Other return

because they intend to do so all along. Brettell (1979) and

Rubenstein (1979) observed a strong "return ideology" or

intention of returning among the Portuguese in France and

among West Indians in England. This is evidenced by, among

other things, the remittances sent home while abroad, and by

ties migrants maintained with people in their home

communities. Rubenstein also observed that West Indians who

intended to return maintained close contacts with other West

Indians in England. Myers and Masnick (1968) concluded that

the stronger the social and psychological ties of Puerto

Ricans, the more predisposed they were to return.

Research findings support the idea of migrant

selectivity. It has been observed that Puerto Rican migrant

characteristics vary with changing socioeconomic

conditions, both in Puerto Rico and in the United States.

Those that migrated to New York before World War II were

mainly skilled and semiskilled urban workers. This

contingent was better educated, more regularly employed and

better paid than the average person in Puerto Rico (Mills et

al., 1950 : 25). When Puerto Rico began to industrialize,

and agricultural production began to decline, there were

greater economic incentives for skilled and semiskilled

urban dwellers. However, there was little to offer farm

workers. Migration thus became an attractive option for this

group, specially after migration was facilitated by the low

cost of air transportation.

Cintron and Vales (1975) study of 236 migrants 14 years

and older who returned to Puerto Rico between 1965 and 1971

found that the present reverse flow was composed of migrants

in the 25-44 age group and who had slightly higher education

than the nonmigrant population. The researcher also found

sex differences in median years of school education: 8.35

for females and 7.4 for males.

Differences in occupational categories have been found

in Israel (Toren, 1976) and among black returnees in

Southern United States (Campbell, 1974). Campbell found more

black return migrants holding white collar jobs (27.8%) as

opposed to nonmigrant blacks (20.3%). The author points out

that the disproportionate number of returnees in higher

occupational categories may be a reflection of the

selectivity of the outmigration or, alternatively, due to

the skills gained while abroad.

The rate of unemployment among returnees is higher

than among nonmigrants. Nevertheless, it has been shown that

unemployment varies inversely with the length of time after

return (Cintron and Vales, 1975; Zell, 1973).

Since education and skill levels are indicative of

individuals income potential, it is expected that return

migrant households' incomes will exceed that of nonmigrants.

Yet evidence suggests that this is not always the case.

Campbell (1974) observed that 44.7% of black return families

had annual incomes of less than $5,000, while 51.3% of

nonmigrant families earnings were less than that amount.

Perkinson's (1980) study in northeastern planes of North

Carolina showed no great differences between the two groups.

Moreover, income and earnings of return migrants did not

differ significantly from those of new migrants. According

to the researcher, this would imply that return migrants

were no greater "failures" than new migrants.

The Impact of Return Migration

The impact of return migration on the socioeconomic

development of the recipient community has been a subject of

debate. The historical-structural perspective provides a

framework for analyzing migration at the macrolevel. This

approach relates individual migration behavior to the larger

social system, a strategy that potentially allows us to

determine the impact of migration on both sending and

receiving societies.

Remittances sent home by migrants are often regarded

as one of the major benefits of migration. It is said that

they help to improve the standard of living of the family

and/or relatives left behind. There are instances in which

the sums of money are considerable. Turkish workers in

Germany were sending home an average of U.S.$700 per month

in 1963. By 1965, this figure rose to U.S.$28 million per

month (cited in Castles and Kosack, 1973). These remittances

were presumed to ameliorate the balance of payments and

assist industrial development in the sending economy.

According to Castles and Kosack, remittances to some

Mediterranean countries have been equivalent to a

significant proportion of the countries' imports.

Remittances, however, have not always been sufficient to

change the balance of payment situation. For instance, the

Greek balance of payments steadily worsened up to 1965,

despite the high level of remittances.

After years residing and working abroad, migrants

accumulate sizeable assets that they bring home with them

upon their return (Brettell, 1979). They have savings and

obtain additional money from the sale of their assets prior

to their departure. In addition, depending on the distance

and cost of transportation, some bring with them possessions

such as furniture and automobiles. Little is known about how

much money the average returnee brings home.

How the capital accumulated while abroad is invested

is important in determining the economic impact of return

migrants upon the community. It is often observed that

housing is the most common form of investment (Brettell,

1979; Rhoades, 1977, 1979; Reichert, 1981). Many invest in

land (McArthur, 1979; Rhoades, 1979). Investments in rural

land often lead to lower agricultural output since land

remains out of production, or is used as a place for

vacationing. Reduced agricultural production may also result

from the fact that returnees are no longer attracted to

agriculture or do not find it profitable to engage in

agricultural occupations.

The dream of many returnees is to be independent and

self-employed. There is evidence from Yugoslavia, Spain,

Italy and other places (cited in Gmelch, 1980) that there is

a tendency for return migrants to engage in small businesses

such as small shops, bars and cafes. Substantial resources

are spent on consumer items, to raise the living standard

and social status of the individual returnee. By local

community standards, it is generally observed that return

migrants are better off.

It is evident that return migrants experience some

social mobility. They improve their own standard of living

and, at the same time, sending societies acquire foreign

currency. But, migration does not seem to bring the expected

economic boost (Weist, 1979; Wood, 1982). German employers,

for example, recruit the healthiest and most able members of

the labor force who are often employed at the time of

migration (Gmelch, 1980). A similar situation is observed in

other industrial countries where trained and educated

individuals are recruited. When workers are no longer

productive because of illness, disability or old age they

return home. The result is that the cost of maintenance of

the labor force is transferred back to the sending society

(Portes, 1976).

Return migrants, it is sometimes argued, bring with

them skills, capital and experiences that they did not have

before. That seems to be true in the case of the returnees

from Hawaii to the Phillippines (Griffiths, 1979; McArthur,

1979), from the United States to Italy (Cerasse, 1974) and

Mexico (Reichert, 1981), and between European countries. They

are even considered to have a "modernizing" effect on their

home communities (Guillett, 1976), although the evidence on

this point is contradictory. While abroad, migrants usual-

ly hold unskilled or semiskilled jobs. Many work in a

single industry, such as textiles or fruit picking. Others

acquire skills that, once they are home, they have little or

no opportunity to apply (Cerasse, 1974). In general,

returnees to developing countries, particularly those

returning to rural areas, do not find the infrastructure

needed to make use of their skills if any were acquired. The

benefit of migration to the sending society, as well as to

the individual migrant, can therefore be questioned.

Return migration aggravates the problem of labor

absorption. Many areas in Italy (Risoli, 1977) and Mexico

(Reichert, 1981) have been incapable of reabsorbing incoming

labor force. Reichert found that in Guadalupe, a Mexican

town committed to seasonal migration as a way of life,

migrant income is the primary source of livelihood for

nearly three-fourths of Guadalupe's families. Wage labor in

the United States has enabled them to dramatically improve

their standard of living and, at the same time, bring

advances in the material conditions of the town through

better housing and improvements in environmental sanitation,

nutrition and health care and other benefits. Seasonal

migration has also made it possible for many to remain in

Guadalupe where there is a shortage of cultivable land and

lack of employment opportunities. Nevertheless, in spite of

achievements in per capital income and rates of consumption

among migrant families, it has not led to the development of

the town's economy in so far as production and new employ-

ment opportunities are concerned. Moreover, the migrant's

achieved standard of living can only be maintained through

recurrent migration. Due to restrictions in immigration to

the United States, a situation has been created in which more

individuals emigrate each year as illegal laborers.

The above mentioned study, and others conducted in

Central Mexico (cited in Reichert, 1981), suggest that

migration, and seasonal migration in particular, provides

temporary relief from rural poverty (or poverty in general)

through the growth of individual household earnings. At the

same time, it fails to produce "the kind of overall

structural transformation needed to ensure the long range

viability and autonomy of sending societies" (Reichert, 1981

: 64). Similar findings have been reported for various

European countries, i.e., Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

Whereas it would be a highly beneficial solution for

developing economies if migration were to help sending

communities achieve socioeconomic development and growth,

the reality is often different. The volume of labor

migration is not generally enough to alleviate unemployment

and raise wages sufficiently to stimulate growth. On the

other hand, if large numbers actually emigrated it might

lead to imbalances in the labor market and even to a decline

in production since it is often the skilled worker who

migrates. Few get vocational training abroad, and many of

those who do receive training are the ones who never return.

Others obtain skills that are not useful at home.

Remittances and other savings are used mostly in

consumption. Few actually invest in industry as most of the

capital goes into small and sometimes unproductive

businesses (Rhoades, 1979).

Return Migration: Puerto Rico

After World War II, many Puerto Ricans migrated to the

United States. Prior to 1960, most of the studies dealing

with migration in Puerto Rico were concerned with migration

from the island to the United States. Concern with return

migration began in the late 1960s after the unexpected

stream of migrants returned to Puerto Rico with intentions

of staying. Their impact was soon felt.

Between 1940 and 1960 approximately 600,000 people

left Puerto Rico to work in the United States (Hernandez-

Alvarez, 1967). Push and pull factors are cited as causes of

this trend. The more relevant are rapid population growth

and high rates of unemployment in Puerto Rico, and more

employment opportunities and higher wages in the United

States (Maldonado, 1979; Monk and Alexander, 1979; Myers,


The transformations of Puerto Rico's economy from a

poor agricultural society into a highly industrialized

economy has brought social and economic change. Per capital

income grew rapidly, and considerable improvements were made

in education, housing and quality of life. As a consequence,

these changes have been accompanied by dramatic demographic


Johnson (1982) views Puerto Rican migration as an

extension of the urbanization process, only played out at a

large scale. Hernandez-Alvarez (1976) views return

migration as one of the many stages of people who move from

(a) birth place to (b) place of residence in the island

before migration to (c) U.S. residence to (d) place of

return in Puerto Rico. Sometimes there are only three moves,

from birthplace to the United States (skipping (b) above)

and back to Puerto Rico.

Miller (1973) found that in the United States some of

the less prosperous states (West Virginia, Arkansas,

Mississippi, and Kentucky) derived a significant fraction of

their immigration from the return of those who had once

left. Moreover, the higher the rate of emigration a place

experienced in the past, the greater the potential for

return migration. These findings suggest that, given the

high number of Puerto Ricans abroad, the potential for

return is also high. The unprecedented reverse trend that

began in the late 1960s reached that proportions due to the

volume of past emigration and the subsequent potential for a

return stream.

During periods of economic recessions in the United

States the rate of migration from Puerto Rico declines and

some return migration occurs (Lopez, 1980; Johnson, 1982).

During the recessions of 1953-54, 1957-58, and the early and

late 1960s, the rate of migration from Puerto Rico to the

United States dropped and the number of Puerto Ricans

returning to the island increased. According to the

censuses, 34,000 returned to the island between 1955 and

1960, and 225,000 between 1965 and 1970. Based on the 1977

Immigration Survey, the Puerto Rican Planning Board (1980)

estimated that, of the total of 685,000 immigrants on the

island, 495,000 (72%) were returnees and 137,000 (20%) were

immigrants of Puerto Rican ancestry. Only 53,000 (8%) were

from the United States or other foreign countries.

In addition to those "pushed-out" of the United States

for economic reasons, are those who return to the island

after retirement and those who return, as Johnson (1982 :

142) put it, "to find their roots." Old age return, or

"coming home to die, seems to be a prevailing pattern among

Puerto Ricans". Others simply return for family or personal

reasons, i.e., illness of a relative, inheritance of

property, or spouse's strong feelings about returning.

Those returnees who spent most of their life in the

mainland feel foreign in Puerto Rico, particularly as

islanders refer to them as "Newyoricans" or "Neoricans".

According to Johnson, they experience prejudice just as they

did in the barrios of the United States.

Some residential areas in Puerto Rico, particularly

around the metropolitan area of San Juan, are increasingly

recognized as "Newyorican" enclaves. In places like

Levittown in Toa Baja and Santa Juanita in Bayamon, English

is spoken by most people in everyday activities and in

schools. Also, a "Neorican Society" in San Juan has been

created to help newcomers.


The objectives of this study are (a) to provide a

better understanding of the socioeconomic impact of

migration and return migration on the migrant household; (b)

to generate insights as to the reintegration of the return

migrant family in the community of origin; and (c) to

provide a better understanding of the socioeconomic impact

of return migration on the receiving community.

Source of Data and Unit of Analysis

The return migrant household constitutes our unit of

analysis. In demography, "persons living in the same

dwelling unit comprise a household, whether they are all

related or not." (Burch, 1979). For census enumeration

purposes the distinction is made between "household" and

"family". "Family" is used to refer only to those kin with

whom one co-resides. For the purposes of this study a

"household" is defined as a group of individuals who reside

together as a single domestic and economic unit. This

definition is appropriate to our study because there was no

unrelated individuals living in the households in our


The return migrant household is defined as that

household in which the head (or person primarily responsible

for the economic welfare) lived in the United States for at

at least five years. The definition is restricted to Puerto

Ricans born in Puerto Rico of Puerto Rican parents or mixed

parentage who have lived in the United States for at least

five years of their lives. Immigrants of Puerto Rican

ancestry born abroad were also included in the sample.

Most of the households studied consisted of parents with

their children, although grandparents or others acting as

tutors of a child were included in the sample. Households in

which a child or other relative had returned from the United

States were not considered.

It is assumed that families with dependent children

are those most affected by migration. Therefore, a sample

of return migrant families in their childrearing stage

is studied. Returnees are compared to a group of families

who never lived abroad. The sample of nonmigrant households

will be used as a control group in order to study the impact

of migration on the return migrant households.

It was not possible to obtain a list of migrants to

and from Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans, as United States

citizens, have free entry to the United States, hence, no

registration system exists of the movement of individuals

between the two places. Some information is collected by the

Department of Labor and the Office of Social Services

related to those return migrants requesting their services.

That information, however, refers to selected members of the

population and was not suitable for sampling purposes.

The sample for this study was therefore obtained

through schools in Puerto Rico. Families with children under

18 years of age who transferred from the United States to

public schools in the Municipio of Mayaguez comprise the

universe from which the sample was drawn. Excluded from

the sample are families composed of old people, those

without children in school and families who left their

children in the United States. By selecting migrants through

the schools, the universe of returnees was restricted to

those households with children.

These criteria were dictated, in part, by practical

reasons. Aside from going house to house in the Mayaguez

area, the schools seemed to be the only source of

information available by which to secure a sample of

families comprising different socioeconomic levels. From a

substantive standpoint, however, such a limitation may not

be serious. Indeed, it can be argued that, since one of the

objectives is to study the problems of reintegration,

families with children are an important group.

We selected six schools in the Mayaguez urban area on

the basis of socioeconomic criteria. They were chosen from a

variety of neighborhoods (Balboa, Candelaria, Miradero,

Marina, Sabalos and downtown Mayaguez) representing differ-

rent socioeconomic levels. Due to the Department of Education

restrictions in supplying students' addresses, children of

migrants and nonmigrant families were asked to deliver

letters to their parents asking parents to collaborate in

the study. Of the total 513 letters distributed, 286 or 56%

responded. It should be noted that in some cases children

may have not delivered the letter as requested. Seventy-nine

percent or 226 families (143 return migrant and 83

nonmigrant households), agreed to participate and 21%

refused to do so for different reasons. Based on the

selection criteria described in this chapter, 120 households

(70 return migrants and 50 nonmigrants) were finally


The sample selection method is admitedly subject to

potential biases caused by the selectivity of those who

agreed to participate. In addition, the representativeness

of the sample may be questioned due to the fact that it is

a nonprobability sample drawn from an unknown universe.

Field Work

The field work for this research consisted of two

stages. First, we carried out preliminary interviews in

three households to obtain detailed information on the

process of their migration and the return. The life

histories of these three families revealed relevant issues

in the study of migration, and guided the formulation of the

questionnaire (Appendix). The next step consisted of

structured interviews among return migrant and nonmigrant

households in the sample. The interview was conducted with

the head of the household or the spouse.

Analysis of Data and Methodology

Data were gathered for each migrant and nonmigrant

household. The following information was recorded: (1)

origin of the head of the household; (2) sex of the head of

the household; (3) marital status; (4) household size and

composition; (5) length of time spent abroad; (6) time spent

in Puerto Rico after the last return; (7) education of the

head of the household and the spouse; (8) skills of the head

of the household and the spouse; (9) occupational mobility;

(10) household's annual income; (11) contacts in Puerto Rico

and kinship ties; (12) female labor force participation;

(13) accumulation of assets; (14) strategies devised in

adjusting to the new environment; and, (15) satisfactions

perceived by returnees as resulting from living in Puerto


In adjusting to the new environment, return migrants

have had to resort to special arrangements. The question-

naire was designed to identify the character of the strate-

gies (if they exist at all), and to carry out a comparative

analysis between migrant and nonmigrant households. We were

particularly interested in determining whether household

strategies in coping with inflation and unemployment are

common across all households or whether migrants have

distinct characteristics. The adjustment of returnees and

their families was also studied in terms of satisfactions

derived from living in Puerto Rico. The issues addressed

included children's adjustment to school and to Puerto

Rican society; childrearing convenience; satisfactions in

relation to public services on the island (i.e., health

facilities, sanitation, transportation, etc.); general atti-

tude toward the return; and intentions of remaining in

Puerto Rico.

The impact of migration on the return migrant

household is of particular interest to this study of Puerto

Rico's return migration. Questionnaire items were designed

to define the migrant situation during three stages of the

process: pre-migration, while residing abroad and, the

returnee's situation on the island. It was assumed that the

pre-migration situation was one of response to the social

and economic conditions of Puerto Rico at the time migration

occurred (e.g., unemployment, low salaries, very low educa-

tional levels). It is expected that, controlling for length

of time residing in the United States, the migrant socioeco-

nomic situation improved while residing abroad.

The implications of migration for social mobility is

examined by analyzing achievement over time in terms of

education, skills, occupation, and material possessions such

as capital and property. Female-headed households represent

almost one-third of the return migrant sample, suggesting

the importance of female headed households to this study.

The characteristics of female headed households are

presented in the tables along with data on migrant and

nonmigrant sample.

Assuming that economic reasons motivated people to

migrate, the socioeconomic impact of migration on the

return migrant household is examined in terms of the

following aspects. First, the proposed objectives and the

length of time intended to stay abroad are compared to the

the objectives accomplished during the actual time spent

abroad. Secondly, general as well as socioeconomic charac-

teristics of return migrants and nonmigrant households, such

as age and sex of the head of the household, marital status,

education and skills, unemployment and patterns of employ-

ment and, occupation and income are compared. An analysis

is carried out on the differences of income between the two

groups. A Multiple Classification Analysis (MCA) is

performed to identify the effects of certain household

attribute variables on household income levels. The

resulting analysis provided us with income differentials

between return migrants and nonmigrants when controlling for

the effects of age, sex and education.

In addition, correlation and multiple regression

analyses were performed to statistically examine the

relationship and significance of selected socioeconomic

variables. The correlation coefficient, r, is a measure of

the direction and strength of the relationship between two

interval variables. This analysis allowed us to select

variables according to their statistical significance.

The first step consisted in examining the direction

and strength of the relationship between income and selected

socioeconomic variables: age of the head of the household;

education of the head of the household and the spouse; age

at the time that migration occurred; number of years living

abroad and time in Puerto Rico after the return, or last

return; occupational mobility and; the number of household

members employed. These variables were selected based on

findings from other studies which indicate their importance

in the determination of individual salaries and wages.

On the assumption that a linear relationship exists

between variables, the multiple regression analysis provided

us with the best linear prediction equation for household

income levels. The stepwise selection procedure was used to

ensure that variables were included in the regression

equation according to their respective contribution to the

explanation of variation in income.

Finally, the accumulation of assets of return migrants

and nonmigrants over time, the difficulties experienced by

return migrants in readjusting to their homeland after many

years of being away, and individual perceptions of the

household overall socioeconomic situation are examined in

order to assess the benefits of migration after the return

and the impact of return migration on Mayaguez.


Puerto Rican communities in the United States emerged

from early movements of labor prior to, during, and

following World War II. Since its beginning, the island's

government did not openly encourage nor discourage

migration. The government considered its role in the

migration process as one of advising potential migrants to

facilitate their migration under a system of contract

labor (Maldonado, 1979). Agricultural laborers in Arizona,

Ohio and other states, and later as industrial workers

during the war, were the migrants who established the

Puerto Rican communities in the United States.

The migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States

presents characteristics of international as well as of

internal migration. It is internal in the sense that Puerto

Ricans, by virtue of being U.S. citizens, are allowed to

freely travel to the mainland without need of a visa. For

the same reason they can work without a work permit or

"green card". Nevertheless, in the United States Puerto

Ricans form an ethnic group with a different language and


Puerto Rican Migration to the United States

The sample of return migrants obtained for this study

shows that the majority of these individuals migrated to the

United States prior to 1960, with the major exodus (71%)

occurring between 1951 and 1960. About one fourth left the

island before 1950.

Migrants went to New York City where they had

relatives and friends to receive and help them find jobs in

the city. The area of major concentration was New York City

(72.9%) and surrounding areas (17.1%), followed by other

cities in the state of New York (5.7%). Therefore, 95.7% of

all migrants in the sample spent most of their stay in the

United States in the New York area. Very few (4.3%) tried

their fortune in other regions.

Profile of the Migrant

Three-fourths of the return migrants in the sample

resided in Mayaguez or a nearby city before departure.

Others (18.6%) lived in nonmetropolitan towns or cities. A

small number left from the San Juan metropolitan area

(1.4%). Ana, one of the return migrants interviewed, recalls

she was eight years old when her parents took her and the

rest of the children to New York City. Before departure the

family was living in the same neighborhood in which they now

live, "a little farther, in one of those mountains you see

over there." They were very poor and her grandfather had

allowed them to build a small wooden house in his property.

Ana reminisced, "My father was 29 years old, married

my mother and had four children. He never had a steady job.

He used to work as a laborer in a beer factory and in

agriculture. When there was nothing to work on he would

sell agricultural products on the streets." In 1950 he

decided to migrate as contract laborer. He worked very hard

in New Jersey for five years. At the end of this period he

had not saved any money and very little was left to send to

his wife and children in Puerto Rico.

As other studies have shown, the majority of those who

migrated in the 1950s were young, poor, unskilled and with

only a few years of elementary education (Hernandez-Alvarez,

1976; Lopez, 1980). They were "pushed" by unemployment in

the island and "pulled" by the economic opportunities of the

time in New York City. This is also true for the migrants in

our sample. More than half of the head of the households

interviewed left at highly productive ages. This survey

found that 57.1% were aged 16-25 (Table 4.1) and 72.8% were

in the 16-35 age group.

It is noteworthy that 61% were either unemployed or

temporarily employed before departure. Only 34.3% had a full

time job. Besides, as many as 69.6% was living in an urban

area and 30.4% moved from a rural setting to New York City.

Table 4.1 Age of the Head of the Household at the Time of

Age Group

under 15
16 25
26 35
36 45
46 55
over 56

Percentage (n)

22.9 (16)
57.1 (40)
15.7 (11)
1.4 ( 1)
1.4 ( 1)
1.4 ( 1)


Mean migration age: 20

100.0 (70)

When asked the reasons) motivating their migration,

89.9% expressed economic reasons as important in their

decision while 10.1% mentioned personal reasons as more

relevant to their final decision to migrate.

Table 4.2 Migration Motive.



89.9 (62)
10.1 ( 7)

100.0 (69)

Evidently, this group of migrants is part of that

segment of the population that did not benefit from the

industrialization process that was going on in their

homeland. The decision to migrate was not a pleasant one


Percent (u)

for them. First, migration for these people was a condition

of survival. Second, migration represented a dream for

improving their lot always with the idea of returning to

Puerto Rico in the future.

The Migrant in the United States

In New Jersey, Ana's father was tired of being far

from the family, concluded that, under the circumstances,

the family would remain apart for the rest of their lives.

Besides returning to the island, there was the possibility

of seeking his brother's help and trying his fortune New

York City like many other Puerto Ricans did at the time.

In New York he was unemployed for a while, mainly

because he did not know the English language. He started as

a welder in a factory a job that he held during his stay in

New York, and which he still performs in Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile Ana's mother worked in a cottage industry in

Puerto Rico. She, like many housewives of the time, was a

mittens seamstress. One day, a year after her husband's

departure to New York, she received the money for her trip

to New York City. She traveled alone, as the money was

enough for just one airplane ticket.

As Ana explained, "My mother worked night and day in

factories as a floor girl. My father was also working in

different jobs in order to be able to send for the four kids

left behind and grandmother." A year after, the remaining

five left. "I was only twelve when I started working in a

laundry in Brooklyn. The owner was Cuban and he employed me

part-time for cleaning and delivering of clothes in the

neighborhood." Her mother continued working and her

grandmother took care of the children.

Ana dropped out of school in the llth grade. She

married young and had five children. She worked in a factory

for four years, before having most of her children. Her

husband, Luis, was taken to New York by his parents when he

was only 14 years old. He was excited about dropping out of

school and not having to take care of his grandfather's

horses anymore. He had heard about making money in the city,

but he was too young to work, and had to go to school in New

York. He dropped out again when he finished 10th grade.

Luis' first job was as a kitchen helper. Three years

later, he obtained a better job, as welder. He was trained

on the job and two years later he was laid off. Shortly

thereafter, he found another job as operative in a factory.

Eight years later was laid off again because the factory

moved to another state. Luis was always lucky, and soon

found employment as a clerk in a shoe store.

The Return

The intention to return prevailed through the years.

However, "We were all happy living in New York until my

mother experienced two violent incidents," Ana said. "One

was an attempt and another was an assault in the street."

Twelve years after their arrival in New York City, and one

month after the last incident, Ana's parents decided to

return to Puerto Rico. All they had was $400 in savings and

a car that they brought with them to Puerto Rico. All the

children were economically independent. Some were already

married, and stayed in New York.

Ana's parents were received and helped in the

beginning by her father's parents. They bought some wood and

constructed a rustic place to live in grandparent's land.

But, Ana's mother did not get along with her mother-in-law,

and her father was unemployed most of the time. He sold the

car and joined a friend to buy a piece of land so they

could live apart.

How to build the house? There was no money. "My father

took off to New York City and my husband helped him find a

job in the company he was working." Two years later he

returned to the island. With the monthly remittances of

these years he had enough to buy the materials for the house

that he built, mostly by himself.

Most of the Puerto Rican migrants of the past left

with the intention of returning soon, one to three years

after. However, as shown in Table 4.3, 98.6% of those in our

sample stayed in New York more than eight years, many of

them as long as 30 years and more. The average stay was 18


Table 4.3 Length of Time Spent Abroad, Return Migrants.
Percent (n).

Return Migrants
Years Total Female Heads

5 7 1.4 ( 1) 4.5 ( 1)
8 15 5.6 -(31) 50.0 (11)
16 30 41.2 (28) 41.0 ( 9)
more than 30 11.8 ( 8) 4.5 ( 1)

Total 100.0 (68) 100.0 (22)

Mean Years Abroad = 18.25.

Ana's brothers and sisters remained in New York and

always dreamed of establishing in Puerto Rico close to the

rest of the family. Ana's oldest sister has decided to stay

in the United States. Her husband was killed a year ago.

She wants to stay in the home he bought for them and keep

the piece of land they have in the countryside. She has

been a housewife all her life and the pension she receives

is enough to support her and the three kids.

Puerto Rico's Return Migration

Why do Puerto Rican migrants return to the island? A

persistent "return ideology," or intention of returning, has

been observed by many researchers (Johnson, 1982; Brettel,

1979; Rubenstein, 1979). Migration out of Puerto Rico seems

to be changing from a "safety valve" to population pressure

(Myers, 1967) and employment problems (Evans and James,1979;

Masnick, 1968) into a boomerang (Bonilla et al, 1979). As

researchers have noted, the higher the rate of migration

a place experienced in the past, the greater the potential

for return migration (Miller, 1973). Other researchers have

noted that return migration to the island may be associated

with the notion among certain segments of the Puerto Rican

population in the United States that "everyone is going back

to Puerto Rico "(Hernandez-Alvarez, 1976).

Why Migrants Return

As discussed in Chapter II, return migration is linked

to economic as well as noneconomic factors. Do the returnees

interviewed for this study belong to the group of those

"pushed out" of the United States for economic reasons

(Rothenberg, 1977; Vanderkamp, 1971) or, do they return "to

find their roots" (Johnson, 1982), for retirement, to die at

home or for any other personal (Perkinson, 1980; Da Vanzo,

1976) reasons?

Most migration literature points to economic reasons

as the more relevant factor in the movement of people from

one place to another. Economic reasons seem to have

motivated the migration of Puerto Ricans to New York. It

would be expected that unemployment, cost of living, or a

similar economic aspect would be the most important factor

motivating the return. Our data question the importance of

pure economic factors on the return.

Almost 79% of all household heads were employed

(Table 4.4) during the period immediately before the return.

Slightly over 90% of the female heads reported that they had

jobs prior to leaving New York. Also, ten percent of the

household heads were incapacitated or already retired.

Apparently, unemployment was not a "push" factor for

returning to Puerto Rico.

Even though 11.5% of the heads of household were

unemployed inmediately before return, only one returnee said

that unemployment was the most important reason for coming

home. Evidently, those unemployed expected to find another

job if they had stayed in New York. In addition, the spouse

was working in 2.9% of the households in which the head was

unemployed, which reduces unemployment to 8.6% of households

where neither spouse was employed. It is important to note

that very often only one member of the family worked on a

regular basis. As many as 75.7% of the families had one and

18.6% had two members regularly employed.

Unemployment did not seem to have had a negative

impact on the migrants' situation in New York. However, other

economic reasons may have influenced the decision to return

since 41.4% reported having received some kind of public

aid. The latter indicates that, although they may have been

employed, their income was not sufficient and that they

needed to depend on public assistance to support the house-


Table 4.4 Employment Status Before Return. Percent (n).

Employment Status Return Migrants
Total Female Heads

Both head of household and 8.6 (6) 0
spouse unemployed
Unemployed head and employed 2.9 ( 2) 0
Incapacitated or retired 10.0 (7) 9.1 (2)
Head of household employed 78.6 (55) 90.9 (20)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22)

A high proportion of returnees expressed fear of the

violence in New York (32.9%; Table 4.5) as the reason

motivating their decision to return. The second most

important reported reason was health problems, such as

incapacity, arthritis, alergies, and other weather related

illnesses (25.7%), followed by change in marital status,

separation, divorce, and widowhood (17.1%).

The majority (83%) of those who reported change in

marital status as motivating their return to Puerto Rico

were women. Why did these women choose to. return?

Probably, they felt the need for financial support and

protection, assuming that their relatives on the island

could provide the needed support.

Table 4.5 Motive for Return to Puerto Rico. Percent (n).

Motive Return Migrants
Total Female Heads

Unemployment 1.4 ( 1) 0
Violence in the U.S 32.9 (23) 27.3 ( 6)
Change of Marital Status 17.1 (12) 45.5 (10)
Health 25.7 (18) 13.6 ( 3)
To try living in Puerto Rico 8.6 ( 6) 9.1 ( 2)
Achieved what desired 7.1 ( 5) 0
Family 4.3 ( 3) 4.5 ( 1)
Other 2.9 ( 2) 0

Total 100.0(70) 100.0 (22)

Some return migrant heads returned after having

achieved their goal (7.1%). Others were motivated by the

desire to live in their homeland (8.6%). None of the female

heads of household said that they achieved their goals or

desires in the United States.

For many returnees their stay in the United States was

longer than expected. "Time was running fast and our

children were in the ages 15, 13, 11 and, 9. It was getting

late for our intended return," Ana said. Besides the cold

weather, that they never liked, they were "worried about

violence and drugs in school and the streets of New York

City. We did not want to lose control of our kids." Her

sister, according to Ana, waited too long. "When children

grow to be teenagers one cannot change things."

In 1976, Mercedes, Ana's sister, made the first

attempt to return to Puerto Rico. She sent her three

daughters to their grandparents. At the time they were 10,

14, and 15 years old. They disliked Mayaguez and asked their

parents to take them back to New York. The family stayed in

New York City for three more years.

New York does not seem to be the appropriate place for

childrearing, according to Mercedes and Ana. "Can you

imagine how parents feel at 2:00 A.M. waiting for their

daughter to come in from the New York City streets. "My

daughter was pregnant and had to drop out of her third year

of nursing school. Thanks God the guy married her," said


In 1982, Mercedes returned again with her second

husband and two daughters. Mercedes' husband is a return

migrant too, who arrived in New York City at the young age

of 16. Like many other migrants, he did different jobs,

such as upholstery and packing. He was always employed.

After a short time, one of Mercedes daughters left to

live with relatives still in New York City. The youngest is

16 years old now, and is home with her parents. Mercedes

resents that her other daughter is not with them in Puerto


It seems that some returnees experienced difficulties

in adjusting to Puerto Rico. This is especially true of

those who migrated at an early age. Others could not go

back to New York even if they wanted to. Having no other

options, they develop strategies in order to better adjust

to the new environment. In order to assess the impact of

migration on the return migrant household, the next chapter

examines the socioeconomic characteristics of the returnees

studied in Mayaguez.


This chapter deals with the socioeconomic characteris-

tics of Puerto Rican return migrants in Mayaguez. The

sample of return migrant families will be compared to a

control group of families who have never migrated.

Comparatively, skills and educational achievements,

occupation and income differentials of the head of the

households as well as general characteristics of the

families will be studied. The two groups will be examined in

order to evaluate the socioeconomic impact of migration and

return migration on the migrant and his/her household.

General Characteristics

It is assumed that families with dependent children

are those most affected by migration. This study's sample

consists of families with school age children transferred

from the United States to schools in the Municipio of

Mayaguez. The nonmigrant sample includes classmates of the

return migrant children.

Age, Sex and Marital Status

Given that the respondents were chosen because they

were in the childrearing stage, large differences in ages

were not expected among parents. In general, return migrant

heads of household were slightly older. In each sample

about one-third were over 45 years old: 35.7% of returnees

and 30% of nonmigrants. Balf in each sample were in the 35-

44 age group. Fewer returnees (14.3%) fell in the younger

category, 25-34 years old, compared to nonmigrants (20%).

The data in Table 5.1 show that the majority of return

migrants were married, although fewer returnees (62.9%),

were married compared to nonmigrants (78%). Also, more

returnees live with their partner without being legally

married (10% and 4%, respectively). Divorcees, separated and

widowers account for 27.1% of returnees, and 18% of

nonmigrants. Consequently, more return households had only

one person responsible for the wellbeing of the family.

Table 5.1 Marital Status of Return Migrants and Nonmigrants.
Percent (n).

Marital Status Return Migrant Nonmigrant

Married 62.9 (44) 78.0 (39)
Living together 10.0 ( 7) 4.0 ( 2)
Separated 5.7 ( 4) 2.0 ( 1)
Widowed 5.7 ( 4) 4.0 ( 2)
Divorced 15.7 (11) 12.0 ( 6)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (50)

More female heads were found among return migrants

than among nonmigrant households. Because female-headed

households constitute a relatively large number in the

sample, special attention will be given to that group.

Family Size

Return migrant households have an average of 4.5

members. Nonmigrant households appear to be slightly larger,

with a mean of 4.9 members. When we look at the distribution

of households by family size, as shown in Table 5.2, we

observe that return migrant families are relatively large in

size; 54.3% of families in our sample have five or more

members (three or more children). Fifty-two percent of

nonmigrants also have relatively large families.

Table 5.2 Size of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant Households.
Percent (n).

Family size Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Total Female Headed Total Female Headed

Less than 4 45.7 (32) 63.6 (14) 48.0 (24) 75.0 (6)
5 6 45.7 (32) 27.3 ( 6) 34.0 (17) 12.0 (1)
7 or more 8.6 ( 9) 9.1 ( 2) 18.0 ( 9) 12.0 (1)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (50) 100.0 ( 8)

Unexpectedly, return migrant households headed by a

female are larger than female headed nonmigrant households;

36.4% of return female households have five or more members

compared to only 25% among the nonmigrant female.

Return families are indeed smaller than a typical

Puerto Rican family of 1940s and 1950s. If we use

nonmigrant families as a reference, we conclude that

migration did not affect the size of the Puerto Rican

migrant families significantly.

Socioeconomic Characteristics

Education and Skills

Earlier studies of the selectivity of migrants show

higher levels of education for return migrants in Puerto

Rico in comparison with the population that never migrated.

Cintron and Vales (1975) found higher educational levels

among migrants that returned to Puerto Rico between 1965

and 1971 than among nonmigrants. However, an analysis of

1970 census data (Torruellas and Vazquez, 1976) shows

that for the population 25 years and over, the mean years of

school completed was 8.3 for return migrants and 9.1 for

nonmigrants. Our data confirm these findings. The average

number of years of school completed for the return migrant

household heads in our sample is 8.3, while the measure for

nonmigrant heads is somewhat higher, 9.1 years. As shown in

Table 5.2, the highest percentage of return heads, both male

and female, is found at the intermediate level of education

(9th grade completed); for nonmigrants it is high school

(12th grade completed).

Table 5.3 Educational Level of Return and Nonmigrant Heads
of Household.

Educational Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Level Total Female Head Total Female Head

Under 5 years 24.3 (17) 9.1 ( 2) 24.0 (12) 12.5 ( 1)
of school
Elementary 18.6 (13) 13.6 (2) 14.0 ( 7) 12.5 (1)
of school
Intermediate 37.1 (26) 50.0 (11) 18.0 ( 9) 12.5 (1 )
High School 12.9 ( 9) 18.2 ( 4) 26.0 (13) 37.5 (3 )
University 7.1 ( 5) 9.1 ( 2) 18.0 ( 9) 25.0 ( 2)
studies with/
without degree

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (50) 100.0 (18)

Return Migrant mean = 8.3 Nonmigrant mean = 9.1
Return Migrant Mode = 9 Nonmigrant Mode = 12

The return migrant sample is made up of relatively

young couples in the childrearing stage of their lives who

migrated to New York and lived there more than five years.

In terms of education, their achievements are not

outstanding when compared to their counterparts who

remained on the island. Eighty per cent of return and 56% of

nonmigrant heads did not obtain a high school diploma.

Forty three per cent of returnees compared to 38% of

nonmigrants did not go beyond elementary school (6th

grade). Only 20% of return heads completed high school

compared to 44% of nonmigrant heads.

About 27% of return female heads completed high school

compared to 62.5% of nonmigrant female heads. The highest

proportion of return female heads is found at the

intermediate level of education while more nonmigrant

female heads have completed high school. An equal

proportion of return and nonmigrant heads, females as well,

have under five years of schooling.

The educational attainment of returnees may have been

affected by the selectivity of the labor market in the

United States. Puerto Ricans were attracted to New York by

the job opportunities and factory wages in the United

States. Between 1947 and early 1960s, factory wages were

about triple Puerto Rican levels (Mosher, 1980 : 58). Since

the majority of migrants worked in similar jobs there was no

need to pursue additional education or to acquire new

skills. Similar to other findings, few migrants obtain

vocational training abroad (Rhoades, 1979a). Those who do

receive training are generally the ones who never return.

Cooney's (1979) analysis of the labor participation of

the Puerto Rican females in New York found that Puerto Rican

women attained less education than those residing in other

states. Also, the women who returned to the island between

1965 and 1970 were better educated and have more work

experience than those that stayed in New York. Cooney

explains that the loss of less skilled female jobs and the

expansion of higher skilled female jobs in New York affected

women and favored native white females, and therefore had an

adverse effect on Puerto Rican women. Jobs for females with

eight years of schooling or less declined by 40% while jobs

for college graduates increased 64% during the 1960 decade

(Cooney, 1970 : 292).

Migrants in our sample returned to Puerto Rico after

1966. Almost one-fourth (23%) of them were female heads of

household who did not complete high school. Their average

level of education was intermediate. Based on Cooney's

results we can speculate that these women belonged to that

segment of the population left out of the prevailing labor

market in New York City.

Aside from the level of education as measured by

years of schooling completed, it is useful to compare

migrants and nonmigrants in terms of their skills. We found

that more return (87.1%) than nonmigrant heads of household

(80%) had skills acquired either through formal or informal

training, as shown in Table 5.4. Almost one-third (seven

out of 22), returnees with formal training reported

attending a vocational school in Puerto Rico. Respondents

with vocational training either attended a vocational school

in order to find the desired job after they returned to

Puerto Rico, or left the island as skilled workers. Only

three returnees attended vocational schools in the United

States. Almost half of returnees with formal training

were females. In terms of skills obtained through voca-

tional schools or on-the-job training, the nonmigrant fe-

males were at a disadvantage compared to males. The same

conclusions held when we compared female return migrant

heads of household.

Table 5.4 Skills of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant Heads
of Household. Percent (n).

Skills Return-Migrant Nonmigrant
Total Female Head Total Female Head

Formal 31.3 (22) 45.5 (10) 30.0 (15) 37.5 ( 3)
On-the-job 55.8 (39) 40.9 ( 9) 50.0 (25) 25.0 ( 2)
No skills 12.9 ( 9) 13.6 ( 3) 20.0 (10) 37.5 ( 3)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (50) 100.0 ( 8)

Training on the job is the more common way of

obtaining skills. Over half of return migrant heads of

household (55.5%), obtained skills at work and in the United

States. None reported having obtained skills during jobs

held in Puerto Rico. On-the-job training is less common

(50%) among nonmigrant heads.

Fewer return migrant heads have no skills (12.9%)

compared to nonmigrants (20%). More female heads (37.5%)

than return migrant female heads (13.6%) are unskilled.

Therefore, although nonmigrants have more education, many of

them may find that they do not have the skills for certain

types of jobs. Industrial employers often require the kind

of experience that more returnees than nonmigrants may


As this discussion emphasizes, employability is

associated with the amount of human capital acquired. Yet

educational level alone is only a partial measure of human

capital investment. Other aspects include the particular

skills learned, either through training on the job or

through a vocational school. Inasmuch as return migrants

and nonmigrants differ in terms of these dimensions, both

measures are relevant to our comparative analysis. In the

section that follows, we explore the implications of such

differences in terms of the occupational distributions of

return migrants.

Employment and Occupation

This section examines unemployment among return

migrants. Also, it explores patterns of employment among

returnees and nonmigrants in terms of the frequency and

motives for changing jobs.

As Mercedes explains, "We were uncertain about job

opportunities in Puerto Rico." Ana's husband was unemployed

for six months after arrival. Mercedes and her husband soon

found jobs. Her husband began as a construction worker, and

was laid off one and a half years later. Since then, he has

not been able to obtain another full time job. At present,

he works from two to four hours a day in a grocery store.

Mercedes found a job in an electronic factory soon after

she arrived. She started in assembly and was promoted to

supervisor. Two years later she was among many to be laid-


Unemployment among return migrants parallels that of

the island as a whole. In 1981, when this research was

done, Puerto Rico's unemployment rate was 22%. As many as

38.5% of return migrant heads were not working for one

reason or another. Twenty-one percent were actively looking

for employment in the stagnant industrial sector of the

island (compared to 12% of nonmigrant heads; Table 5.5).

A returnee's situation was aggravated when the spouse was

also unemployed. In a few cases, the shared economic

responsibility was not possible due to the absence of a

spouse in the household.

In almost one-third (31.4%) of the return migrant

households a woman is primarily responsible for the economic

welfare of the family. Eight of the fifteen unemployed

return heads are female. Comparatively, the situation of the

nonmigrant female head is less dramatic. Their

unemployment rate is lower, they represent two of the eight

nonmigrant unemployed heads.

Table 5.5 Employment Status of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant
Heads of Household. Percent (n).

Employment Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Status Total Female Head Total Female Head

Unemployed 21.4 (15) 36.4 ( 8) 16.0 (8) 25.0 ( 2)
Employed 61.4 (43) 50.0 (11) 70.0 (35) 50.0 ( 4)
Incapacitated 7.1 ( 5) 0 10.0 ( 5) 12.5 ( 1)
Retired 5.7 ( 4) 0 2.0 ( 1) 0
Other 4.3 ( 3) 13.6 ( 3) 2.0 ( 1) 12.5 ( 1)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (50) 100.0 ( 8)

Twenty-nine percent of all of return migrant and

nonmigrant household heads interviewed said they were laid

off from the last job (Table 5.6), a pattern more common

among nonmigrants than return migrants (31.9% and 28.6%,

respectively). It should be noted that, even though returnee

lay-off figures may include lay-off that occurred in the

United States, these instances are rare. As mentioned

earlier in this chapter, 78.6% of return migrants were

employed in the United States at the time they decided to

return to Puerto Rico. These findings are not surprising

given the recent employment situation in Puerto Rico. The

island's economy relies heavily on foreign industry, much of

the investment is from the United States and there is

evidence that firms are leaving the island (Safa, 1984b).

Industries are moving to foreign countries such as Mexico

and other Central American and Caribbean countries to take

advantage of cheap and non-unionized labor. The exodus of

manufacturing industries, which is partly responsible for a

rise in unemployment, may account for the high proportion of

lay-off found here.

Table 5.6 Reason for Last Change in Job, Return Migrant and
Nonmigrant Heads of Household. Percent (n).

Reason Return Migrants Nonmigrants
Total Female Head Total Female Head

Lay-off 28.6 (20) 22.7 ( 5) 31.9 (15) 25.0 ( 2)
Obtained a 7.1 (12) 4.5 ( 1) 38.3 (18) 25.0 ( 2)
better job
Change of 31.4 (22) 36.4 ( 8) 2.1 ( 1) 0
Resignation 17.1 (12) 36.4 ( 8) 12.8 ( 6) 37.5 ( 3)
Incapacitated 15.7 (11) 0 14.9 ( 7) 12.5 ( 1)
or Retired

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (47) 100.0 ( 7)

The above findings are confirmed by data on the

reasons motivating most changes in jobs among nonmigrants.

Information was gathered about jobs held during the head of

the household's lifetime, beginning with the current job and

going back to the first one. The reasons for leaving each

job were recorded in order to explore possible patterns of

employment and differences between return migrants and non-

migrants in lifetime employment. The results showed that

return migrants held an average of 5.5 jobs compared to 3.16

among nonmigrant heads. Lay-off from the job appeared to be

a problem for half (Table 5.7) of the heads of household who

never left Puerto Rico. The higher percentage of job changes

due to lay-off among nonmigrants is consistent with the

information on the slowdown in industrial production in

Puerto Rico during the period.

Almost half of the return migrant heads (48.5%)

resigned from their previous job. Their resignation was

motivated by a change in place of residence (31.4%) or

because the returnee decided not to work in that place

anymore (17.1%). Most of those who changed employment

because they changed place of residence said they resigned

from their job in the United States in order to return to

Puerto Rico. Therefore, the wish to return and not lay-off

motivated their return. Very few cases reported a change in

residence after return that forced them to change jobs.

However, change of place of residence was not an

important factor in returnee's employment history. Only 18.3%

reported change of residence as the common reason for

changing jobs. As shown in Tables 5.6 and 5.7, the frequency

of job resignation among returns was higher than among

nonmigrants. A pattern of job resignation was not found

among nonmigrants. The data seems to indicate that retur-

nees, more than nonmigrants, tend to resign when they are

dissatisfied with their job or place of work.

5.7 Most Common Reason for Changing Jobs, Return
Migrant and Nonmigrant Heads of Household.
Percent (n).

Reason Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Total Female Head Total Female Head

Lay-off 30.0 (18) 6.2 ( 1) 50.0 (14) 50.0 ( 1)
Obtained a 20.0 (12) 25.0 ( 4) 46.4 (13) 50.0 ( 1)
better job
Change of 18.3 (11) 18.8 ( 3) 0 0
Resignation 31.7 (19) 50.0 ( 8) 3.6 ( 1) 0

Total 100.0 (60) 100.0 (16) 100.0 (28) 100.0 ( 2)

Women heads of household do not behave very

differently from the return migrant or nonmigrant group they

belong to. Seventy-three percent of return migrant women

heads resigned from their previous job. Half of those that

resigned did so because they changed place of residence,

most likely to return to Puerto Rico. Twenty-three percent

were laid off from the job. Similarly, 62.5% of nonmigrant

women also resigned from the previous job, but more than

half of those who resigned did so to take on a better job.

Nonmigrants seem to be more socioeconomically mobile.

More nonmigrant heads of household (38.3%) left their

previous employment because they obtained a better position

somewhere else. Also, even though lay-off from employment is

a problem frequently faced by workers in Puerto Rico, a

considerable proportion of the nonmigrants in our sample

(46.4%) reported that, in their lifetime, changes in jobs

were mostly motivated by a change to a better job. Only 20%

of the return migrant heads had the same experience.

Moreover, only 7.1% of return migrant heads resigned from

their previous job because they obtained a better position

somewhere else.

Return migrants show a tendency to change jobs more

frequently than nonmigrants. As mentioned before, returnees

had an average of five to six jobs and nonmigrants an

average of 3. As Table 5.8 shows, 60% of nonmigrant heads

had between one and three jobs in their lifetime. The

majority (94%) had fewer than six jobs. On the other hand,

almost half (48.5%) of returnees has had six or more jobs.

Table 5.8 Lifetime Number of Occupations of Return Migrant
and Nonmigrant Heads of Household. Percent (n).

Number of Occupations Return Migrants Nonmigrants

0 2.0 ( 1)
1 20.0 (10)
2 7.1 ( 5) 14.0 ( 7)
3 17.1 (12) 26.0 (13)
4 14.3 (10 18.0 ( 9)
5 12.9 ( 9) 14.0 ( 7)
6 15.7 (11) 4.0 ( 2)
7 15.7 (11) 0
8 10.0 ( 7) 0
9 2.9 ( 2) 0
10 or more 4.2 ( 3) 2.0 ( 1)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (50)

Return Migrant Mean= 5.54; Mode=3
Nonmigrant Mean= 3.16; Mode=3

Several factors contributed to the differences in

employment patterns between return migrants and nonmigrants

found here. First of all, the New York area job market

offered more employment opportunities to migrants. Secondly,

many migrants arrived in the United States already equipped

with skills. For instance, many Puerto Rican women that

migrated to New York in the 1940, 1950 and 1960 decades had

cutting and sewing skills. Therefore, they concentrated in

certain type of jobs. In addition, these types of jobs had

fewer language requirements, and wages were often lower,

reducing competition with native workers (Safa, 1981: 162).

These factors facilitated the Puerto Ricans employment in



Campbell's study (1974) of blacks returning to the

south of the United States points to the disproportionate

number of returnees in higher occupational categories in

comparison to nonmigrants. This differentiation is

explained by the selectivity of the outmigration or by the

possibility of migrants gaining skills while abroad.

However, our study found fewer return migrant heads of

household in professional, technical and managerial

occupations (4.3%, compared to nonmigrant heads, 14.3%)

The majority of the people interviewed, returness as

well as nonmigrants, work at the industrial zone in

Mayaguez. The industries located there include apparel

manufacturing, the assembly of electronic appliances, and

food processing and packing. More return migrant heads of

household (61.4%), both male and female, are employed in

this kind of activities than nonmigrants (53.1%; Table 5.9).

Factory employment is followed by sales and clerical.

Table 5.9 Occupation of Return Migrant and Nonmigranmt
Heads of Household. Percent (n).

Occupational Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Category Total Female Head Total Female Head

Professional, 4.3 ( 3) 4.5 ( 1) 14.3 ( 7) 0
Managers, Sales 18.6 (13) 9.1 ( 2) 10.2 ( 5) 37.5 (3)
and Clerical
Craftsmen* 61.4 (43) 59.1 (13) 53.1 (26) 25.0 (2)
Laborers 5.7 ( 4) 0 14.2 ( 7) 0
Service Workers 4.3 ( 3) 9.1 ( 2) 4.1 ( 2) 12.5 (1)
Housewives 5.7 ( 4) 18.2 ( 4) 4.1 ( 2) 25.0 (2)

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (49) 100.0 (8)

*Factory Workers.

When we look at lower paid occupational categories,

we find that 14.2% of nonmigrants hold manual jobs compared

to only 5.7% of returnees.

Female return heads of household show a similar

pattern to that of male heads. Most hold factory jobs. No

female was found in the laborer category but, an equal

number of males was found in the laborers category.

Nonmigrant females show a different pattern; most hold sales

and clerical jobs, followed by factory jobs and housewives.

Minimal differences are observed in the service and house-

wives category between return and nonmigrant female heads.

Family Income

Poverty level incomes were found among both return and

nonmigrants. As shown in Table 5.10, one-third of return

migrant (32.8%) and over one fifth of nonmigrant families

are below the poverty level in Puerto Rico ($5,900). The

percentage of households with incomes under $5,900 is

higher among returnees. More returnees have incomes under

$3,000 (5.7%) than nonmigrants (2.1%). While they were in

the United States, none of the returnees had annual incomes

under $3,000. This indicates that returnees have not

benefited in economic terms by returning to the island.

Table 5.10 Annual Income of Return Migrant and Nonmigrant
Households. Percent (n).

Income ($) Return Migrant Nonmigrants
Total Female Headed Total Female Headed

1,000 -3,000 5.7 ( 4) 13.6 ( 3) 2.1 ( 1) 0
3,100 -5,900 27.1 (19) 31.8 ( 7) 20.8 ( 8) 0
6,000 -8,900 34.3 (24) 41.0 ( 9) 33.3 (16) 50.0 (3)
9,000-11,900 11.4 ( 8) 9.1 ( 2) 20.8 (10) 50.0 (3)
12,000-18,000 15.7 (12) 4.5 ( 1) 14.6 ( 7) 0
18,100-25,000 2.9 ( 2) 0 8.3 ( 4) 0
Over 25,000 2.9 ( 2) 0 0 0

Total 100.0 (70) 100.0 (22) 100.0 (48) 100.0 (6)

Return Migrant Households = $8,613
Female Headed Households = $6,573
Nonmigrant Households = $8,908
Female Headed Households = $8,850

A high percentage of female-headed return households

show poverty-level incomes. Poor households headed by women

constitute 14.3% of the 34.3% return migrant households with

incomes under $5,900.

As expected, the percentage of households diminishes

at higher income levels. However, fewer returnees (32.9%)

have incomes over $9,000 per year compared to nonmigrants.

There are no female-headed households at higher income

levels. Only 13.6% of return female-headed households have

yearly salaries over $9,000. Half of the nonmigrant female

heads have incomes between $9,000 and $11,900. Most receive

less than $12,000.

Puerto Rican women often return to the island because

of the difficulties of finding employment and suitable child

care (Alcalay, 1984). Most of the females in our sample

(about 75% of 38 respondents) reported they had to pay

either a sitter or relative for child care, when they

worked in the United States. In about 10% of the cases some

relative or neighbor would help for free. Four percent

said that their children were old enough or that older

children would take care of younger ones after school.

Cooney (1979 : 294) found that those females who

returned to Puerto Rico between 1965 and 1970 were better

educated and had more work experience than those who stayed

in New York. If the return females interviewed in Mayaguez

in this study belong to that group the selectivity, Cooney

notes, did not help them improve their socioeconomic

condition, as documented by the employment and income data

presented above. As Safa (1984a) indicates, female

unemployment has increased in an era of growing

unemployment and economic crisis. As mentioned before, the

recession of the garment industry in Puerto Rico in the

1970s is partly due to the competition from cheaper wages

in Asia, Latin America and other Caribbean islands.

However, according to Safa, women have been less affected

than men by the growing unemployment because the jobs women

hold have suffered less than male blue collar jobs.

The present economic situation in Puerto Rico is

reflected by the number of households that depend, one way

or another, on government funds to support or supplement

income. The growing unemployment, the decline of the

industrial sector, and low wages have made Puerto Rican

economy heavily dependent on social security, veterans

benefits, unemployment compensation and food checks. It is

estimated that about 70% percent of the Puerto Rican

population received food checks (Safa, 1984a : 1173) in 1977.

That year, this program alone cost the United States

government $802.1 million.

Almost half of all the families interviewed in this

study received food checks at the time of the survey. We

also found that more return migrants benefit from the

Welfare Program (18.6%; Table 5.11) and subsidies for rent

of home (11.1%) than nonmigrant households. Return female-

headed households make use of all kinds of public aid. None

of the nonmigrant female-headed households was receiving aid

from the Welfare Program at the time of the interview.

5.11 Economic Support Received by Return Migrant and
Nonmigrant Households. Percent (n).

Economic Return Migrant Nonmigrant
Support Total Female Headed Total Female Headed

Food Checks 47.1 (33) 50.0 (11) 42.0 (21) 37.5 ( 3)
Subsidy for 15.7 (11) 27.3 ( 6) 4.0 ( 2) 12.5 ( 1)
rent of home
Welfare Program 18.6 (13) 18.2 ( 4) 8.0 ( 4) 0
Social Security 17.1 (12) 22.7 ( 5) 12.0 ( 6) 37.5 ( 3)
Alimony 1.4 ( 1) 13.6 ( 3) 0 50.0 ( 4)

Very few return female-headed households receive

economic support from alimony. However, fifty per cent of

all nonmigrant female-headed households receive alimony. We

could argue that, in most cases, their ex-partners are still

in the United States and that the distance makes it easier

for them to avoid responsibilities. In such cases, it is

more difficult and costly for women to file claims for

alimony in the courts of the United States.

As mentioned before, Mercedes' husband has been

working on a part time basis for a year and a half. How much

do they make for a living? Mercedes receives $86.00 per

month from unemployment compensation and her husband earns

about $40.00 biweekly. Mercedes explains that they survive

with this income because they do not pay rent for the tiny

apartment nor do they pay for utilities. Her parents pay

for these expenses. Also, Mercedes brought furniture and

some electric appliances with them from New York. However,

they doubt they can stay long in Puerto Rico given the

present economic situation and the poor perspectives of

improvement, according to Mercedes.

Ana and her husband have decided to stay in Puerto

Rico. "We will survive one way or another", Ana said. Ana's

husband was unemployed for six months after arrival. He

then found a job as salesman in a shoe store. He did not

like the company and after eighteen months he resigned. He

found a similar job soon after he resigned. For the last

three years he has been working for the same company. He

earns $536 per month. "Our economic situation was good

because I was earning $576 per month as floor lady in an

electronic factory," said Ana. She was laid-off a year ago,

and is waiting to be called to work again. "If I get the

job back or not will not influence our decision of staying

in Puerto Rico. We belong here," Ana said.

Income Differentials

A Multiple Classification Analysis (MCA) was

performed to identify the effects of certain household

attribute variables on family income levels. The MCA table

presents deviations from the overall mean income as a result

of being a migrant or nonmigrant. The MCA analysis permits

us to statistically remove the effects of other variables,

such as education and sex of the head of the household, in

order to examine the differences in annual incomes between

return migrant and nonmnigrant households.

The MCA results presented in Table 5.12 show that the

return migrant family income is $295 below the nonmigrant.

When the level of education and sex of the head of the

household were taken into consideration the differences in

income almost doubled. Return migrant families showed

incomes $581 over that of nonmigrants. However, the income

differential between nonmigrant and return migrant heads of

household is not statistically significant. The difference

we find may therefore be due to chance.

The lower portion of Table 5.12 shows income

differentials by the sex of the household. As expected, the

income of households headed by females is below the income

of households headed by males. The unadjusted deviations

show that female-headed households have comes that are

$2,291 below that of males. Those differences substantially

increase when we account for migration status and education

of the household head. As shown on the right hand side of

Table 5.12, the net difference is $3,482, which is

statistically significant. The relationship between the

variables in this analysis is somewhat strong (R = 0.46).

The R2 (0.21) indicates that this model explains 21% of

the variation in income levels between migrants and


Table.5.12 Multiple Classification Analysis: Differences in
Annual Family Income, Return Migrants and
Nonmigrants, By Sex, Controlling for Education of
the Head of the Household.

Variables N Unadjusted Adjusted for
and Category Dev'n Eta independents
and covariates
Dev'n Sig.*

Return Migrant 70 -120 236 Not Sig.
Nonmigrant 48 175 -345

Male 90 544 826 Sig.
Female 28 -1747 -2656

Multiple R 0.46
R2 = 0.21
Grand Mean $8,733

* Significant at 0.05 or less

The Relationship Between Income and Selected Socioeconomic
Characteristics of Return Migrant Households

This section will statistically examine the

significance of selected socioeconomic variables and their

power to predict income levels. As a first step, a

correlation analysis was performed in order to examine the

direction and the strength of the relationship between

income and selected socioeconomic variables.

Education of the head of the household and the spouse

was selected because of the importance attached to these

variables in the determination of individual salaries and

wages. The age at the time of migration and the length of

residence in the United States were included to examine the

influence of the migration experience on the income of

return migrant families.

As expected, the number of household members employed

showed a positive and the highest correlation with family

income (r 0.58; Table 5.13). Education of the head of the

household showed the second highest correlation (R = 0.37).

All other variables appeared to be less strongly correlated

to family income.

On the assumption that a linear relationship exists

between variables, a multiple regression analysis was

performed to find the best linear prediction equation. All

of the above variables were included. The stepwise

selection procedure was used to ensure that variables were

included in the regression equation according to their

respective contribution to the explanation of variation in


Table 5.13 Correlation Between Income and Selected
Socioeconomic Variables.

Variable r

Age of Head of Household -0.09
Education of Head of Household 0.37
Education of Spouse -0.18
Years abroad 0.04
Number of jobs -0.00
Members employed 0.58
Year of return -0.21
Migration Age -0.19

Three of the above variables met the stepwise entry

criteria (Table 5.14). The regression equations obtained

were the following:

Y = 1,387 + 4,029X1 + 322X2 + 79X3 (Unstandardized)

Y = .56X1 + .23X2 + .17X3 (Standardized)

where: X1 = Number of family members employed

X2 = Education of the Head of Household

X3 = Length of residence in the United States

Starting at $1,387 annual family income we can

expect a $4,029 increase for each additional family member

working, and a $322 increase for each year of education and

a $79 increase for every year of residence abroad. This

model explains 42% of the variation in annual family


Table 5.14 Summary Statistics: Dependent Variable Income.

Independent B Beta T Sig. T

Employed Family 4029.0 0.64 6.64 0.00
Family Members
Education of Head 322.1 0.23 3.11 0.00
Length of U.S. 79.1 0.17 2.34 0.02
Constant 1387.0 1.30 0.19

Multiple R = 0.65 F = 27.35
R2 = 0.42 Sig. F = 0.00
n = 118

Based on the statistical analysis presented above the

household's economic situation depends, of course, on

employment opportunities and is tied to the number of

household members working, specifically, the spouse

employment. Only 17.1% of return migrant households had two

members employed. None had more than two. Their situation

in the United States was, probably, better because in 19% of

the households the spouse was regularly working. Also, the

temporary and part time employment of the spouse were

common among migrants as a strategy to obtain additional

income when needed.

The standardized regression equation better represents

the differences we want to emphasize. The Beta coefficients

are comparable because the Beta values are indicated in

terms of standard units. Hence, we can compare the relative

impact of different variables, such as education or length

of residence, even though the variables are in different

units of measure. On the basis of the results shown in

Table 5.14 we conclude that the most important predictor of

household income is the number of family members in the

workplace. The second most important predictor is the

education of the household head, followed by length of

residence in the United States. Although the effect is

rather small, these results suggest that the greater the

number of years in the United States the higher the average

household income in Puerto Rico at the time of the


This chapter presented a detailed analysis of the

return migrants and their households and how they compare to

those that never migrated. Next chapter will examine the

return migrant household in terms of their adjustment to

Puerto Rico and the impact of return migration on the

household economy and the receiving community.


This chapter further examines socioeconomic charac-

teristics of return migrant households in order to assess

the impact of migration and the return on the families

studied and on the receiving community. Remittances to

Puerto Rico while in the United States, the plans for return

and assets of return migrants will be discussed in an

attempt to determine their impact in Mayaguez. Returnees

are expected to experience difficulties as they reintegrate

into the new environment. Therefore, another objective of

this study is to explore the adjustment process of the

resturnees and their families. This is done by analyzing

how returnees cope with the household economic situation,

and by investigating children's integration to school and

the satisfactions they derive from living in Puerto Rico.

Finally, we will explore people's general attitude towards

the return, and their intentions of remaining in Puerto


As indicated in Chapter III, most Puerto Rican

migrants left with the intention of returning within a short

period of time. Most of them stayed an average of 18 years.

Yet, interviews with returnees such as Mercedes and Ana,

show persistent they were in their intention to return

regardless of the time spent abroad. A strong "return

ideology" was observed.


Findings from other studies show that remittances sent

home by migrants while abroad evidence the intention of

returning (Brettel, 1979; Rubenstein, 1979). This study

found that few returnees (Table 6.1) send money or periodic

remittances to Puerto Rico (24.1% sent under $500 per year;

10% sent between $501 and $2,000 and; 4.3% reported sending

somewhat over $2,000). Only 10% said they send money to the

island with the intention of investing in Puerto Rico. Most

returnees would spare some money (an average of $370 per

year) in order to help relatives in Puerto Rico.

Table 6.1 Return Migrant Remittances Sent to Puerto Rico by
Purpose. Percent (n).

As economic help to relatives 32.9 (23)
For investment 10.0 ( 7)
As economic help to relatives and 2.9 ( 2)
No remittances 54.3 (38)

100.0 (70)

The mean yearly remittances was $374 per year. The

correlation table below (Table 6.2) shows no strong

relationship between remittances and selected variables. A

negative correlation between yearly remittances and the age

at migration was found. Those returnees that migrated at

young ages sent higher amounts than those who migrated at

older ages.

The positive correlation with the present age of the

returnee indicates that those that migrated as adults sent

some funds to the island. However, as we discussed before,

low amounts were sent and they were sent mainly to support

the family and relatives (23 out of 32 cases) left behind

in Puerto Rico.

Table 6.2 Zero order Correlation: Remittances and Selected
Socioeconomic Variables.

1 2 3 4 5

1. Remittances 1.00
2. Age 0.08 1.00
3. Migration Age -0.03 0.68* 1.00
4. Length of U.S.Residence 0.27* 0.34* -0.38* 1.00
5. Lifetime Jobs 0.07 0.34 -0.13 0.10 1.00

Sig. at 0.05 or less.

The variables measuring the number of years in the

United States and the migration age are negatively

correlated (r = 0.38). Returnees who migrated older had a

shorter stay in the United States. Similarly, those that

migrated younger lived longer in the United States. The

remittances of those that migrated younger and stayed

abroad longer were higher than the remittances of those

that migrated older and for a shorter period of time. A

positive correlation is also observed between the amount of

yearly remittances and the number of jobs held by the


Assets of Return Migrants in Puerto Rico

After years of residing abroad, migrants are expected

to accumulate material possessions that they bring home with

them upon return. They have savings and obtain additional

money from the sale of their belongings. Depending on the

distance and cost of transportation, some return migrants

bring other possessions such as furniture and automobiles.

The section that follows examines how much savings returnees

accumulated by the time of their return. We will also

examine how they use these savings.


This study found that, despite the distance between

New York and Puerto Rico, returning families tend to bring

some possessions acquired during their stay in the United

States. As shown in Table 6.3, about 71% of returnees

incurred moving expenses. The mean cost of moving expenses

found was $1,038. Some (18.8%) incurred expenses over

$1.100. About one-fourth did not incur any moving costs

beyond the airplane tickets.

Table 6.3 Moving Expenses of Return Migrants. Percent (n).

No expenses 26.1 (18)
$ 100 $ 500 23.2 (16)
$ 600 $1,100 31.9 (22)
$1,100 $2,500 14.5 (10)
$3,000 $7,700 4.3 ( 3)

100.0 (69)
Mean Moving Expenses: $1,038.

Little is known about how much money the average

returnee brings home and how savings are invested. It was

found that returnees did not invest in tools with the

intention of starting business or some income generating

activity in Puerto Rico. Those that invested their

resources (10%) spent between $200 and $2,800. Moreover,

44.3% of return migrant families did not bring savings with

them, or brought and an amount (under $500) that was not

enough to support them more than a month. Almost one-

fourth (24.3%) brought enough funds to get them to Mayaguez.

Once in Mayaguez, their relatives supported them until they

found employment. A few (14.3%) brought enough to get to

Mayaguez and help them for a couple of months. If these

people found a job within a month, they probably settled

dowm with the help and economic support from relatives on

the island. Approximately one-fourth of return families