Report

Most Mexicans See Better Life in U.S. – One In Three Would Migrate

  • September 23, 2009

Facing a variety of national problems - crime, drugs, corruption, a troubled economy - Mexicans overwhelmingly are dissatisfied with the direction of their country. With drug-related violence affecting much of Mexico, large majorities describe crime (81%) and illegal drugs (73%) as very big problems, and Mexicans overwhelmingly endorse President Felipe Calderón's tough stance against drug traffickers.

Most believe life is better in the United States. Close to six-in-ten (57%) say that people who move from Mexico enjoy a better life in the U.S., up from 51% in 2007. And the vast majority of those who are in regular contact with friends and relatives living in the U.S. say those friends and relatives have largely achieved their goals.

A substantial minority of Mexicans say that if they had the means and opportunity to go live in the U.S. they would do so, and more than half of those who would migrate if they had the chance say they would do so without authorization.

Nonetheless, immigration data show a drop-off in recent years in the annual flow of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. This decline may be tied in part to the economic downturn in the U.S., which has resulted in fewer jobs for immigrants. Four-in-ten Mexicans say they know someone who left for the U.S. but returned because they could not find a job, although even more (47%) report knowing someone who returned because they were turned back by the border patrol.

And some may see expanding job opportunities in the Mexican economy. Although 69% say the current economy is bad, most are upbeat about the future: 61% expect the national economy to improve over the next 12 months, while only 14% think it will get worse.

The close ties between people in the U.S. and Mexico are reflected in the survey's findings - 39% of Mexicans have friends or relatives in the U.S. Nearly one-in-five (18%) Mexicans say they receive money from relatives living in another country, although this represents a slight decline from 2007, when 23% said they received money from outside.

These are the latest findings from the 2009 survey of Mexico by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.

Read the full report Most Mexicans See Better Life in U.S. – One In Three Would Migrate on the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project Web site.