Emigrants and the Body Politic Left Behind

Results from the Latino National Survey

Published in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, v. 38, no.5, May 1, 2012, p. 711-736

Posted on RAND.org on April 02, 2013

by Roger David Waldinger, Thomas Soehl, Nelson Lim

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There is a duality at the heart of the migration phenomenon, as the very same people who are immigrants are also emigrants, making a living and possibly setting down roots in the receiving society, but still connected to and oriented toward the home society where their significant others often reside. While research has shown that home-country political conditions and experiences affect immigrant political behaviour in the receiving society, scholarship has yet to ask how those same factors affect the ways in which emigrants relate to the body politic left behind. This paper seeks to fill that lacuna. We find that pre-migration political experiences impart a lasting post-migration interest in home-country politics and that such effects are substantial compared with the impacts associated with other cross-border connections, such as remittance sending or return travel.

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