Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Ida Susser

Committee Members

Marc Edelman

Donald Robotham

Subject Categories



This investigation concerns children and caregivers in Santa Ursula, a town in Puebla, Mexico from which many women have migrated to the United States in recent years. The expansion of female migration since the 1980s and children who remain behind in women's poorer nations of origin, where households, communities and governments assume their care, are salient features of global economic restructuring (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). This study analyzes how children's circumstances change when mothers migrate, and how family, community and state representatives understand and deal with these changes. Social reproduction in a community like Santa Ursula supports not only a source of cheap immigrant labor in the global economy, but also helps produce and reproduce transnational social hierarchies among individuals, households, communities and nations.

Gendered, aged and intergenerational relations and obligations are central to care arrangements in Santa Ursula. Social reproduction is primarily women's responsibility. Although men migrate in greater numbers, female migration most greatly affects care arrangements. Expectations and possibilities for childhood, a gendered and aged household division of labor, early marriage and childbearing, residence rules and in-law relations shape how family members understand and distribute carework when mothers migrate. Most often grandmothers are designated caregivers for children. However, eldest, unmarried, adolescent daughters usually shoulder the burden of reproductive labor. Girls' reproductive responsibilities sometimes supplant educational and social activities, which is more common in poorer nations' migrant-sending communities, than in wealthier receiving nations. Female migration also affects old-age care. Providing companionship and help, grandchildren-charges are often critical to grandparents' well-being as kin networks shrink. Sometimes children cannot adequately or safely carry out domestic tasks. Nevertheless, children are usually well cared for, often with help from extended family. Rarely, children end up abandoned, in which case the state intervenes to reintegrate the family. Despite neoliberal restructuring, the Mexican state has expanded social spending since the mid-1990s and supports Santa Ursulan families through several programs and institutions. Given Mexico's slow economic and job growth, increased social spending inadvertently contributes to a healthier and better educated transnational workforce, including young adults who were raised by caregivers.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.

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