01.01.06. Migration | Mexico

01.01.06. Migration | Mexico

11 Jul 2022

Mexico has a long history of migration patterns including internal and international migration. Internal migration, defined as the displacement of the population within the same territory (within a municipality or federative entity) (INEGI, 2010b), continues to be an important demographic factor in Mexico. According to the 2015 Intercensal Survey (INEGI, 2015b), it is estimated that 17.4% of the residents of Mexico were born in a different entity (state, municipality, or locality) from the one they reside in or were born abroad. There are important differences among states, for example, this percentage in the state of Quintana Roo reaches 54.1% of total population in the state, followed by Baja California with 44.1%. On the other hand, the state of Chiapas presents the lowest percentage of residents reporting being born elsewhere at 3.4% of total population, followed by Guerrero with 4.9%.

Regarding international migration history, starting in the 1940s with the Bracero Program and most importantly from the 1970s onward was largely one of flows to the United States, and today, Mexico is one of the countries with the largest accumulated outwards migration in the world. More recently, Mexico has become an important transit migration country, mainly by Central Americans headed to the U.S. some of which, while they wait on their application/obtaining refugee status in the US, choose to settle temporarily or permanently within the country (INEGI, 2010b).

In 2015, just over one million people living in Mexico reported being born in another country, which is equivalent to 0.84% of the total population of the country. Showing an increasing trend in foreign immigration, this percentage has doubled in the last fifteen years (INEGI, 2015b). According to the International Migration Outlook 2017 (OECD, 2017b) immigration to Mexico increased sharply over the past two decades, while the inter-census survey (INEGI, 2015b) indicates that the number of foreign-born population has reached the level of one million, double the number than in 2000. In 2015, 34,500 foreigners were issued a new permanent resident permit, and it is estimated that 377,000 Central Americans migrants transited through Mexico in route to the USA (OECD, 2017b).


INEGI. (2010b). Principales resultados del Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010. In Principales resultados del Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010. (Vol. 1).

INEGI. (2015b). Encuesta Intercensal 2015 Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, 1, 85–90. http://internet.contenidos.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/Productos/prod_serv/contenidos/espanol/bvinegi/productos/nueva_estruc/702825078966.pdf

OECD. (2017b). “Mexico” in International Migration Outlook 2017. https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/migr_outlook-2017-29-en