The Impact of Social Security on Return Migration among Latin American Elderly in the U.S.

Alma Vega, University of California, Berkeley

International migration has long been considered to be the preserve of working-age adults. However, the rapid diversification of the elderly population calls for increased attention to the migration patterns of this group, and its possible motivations. This study examines whether Latin American immigrants are more likely to return to their home countries during later life if they receive lower Social Security benefi ts. Using a regression discontinuity approach on data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, I observe the results of a natural experiment whereby the Social Security Administration unexpectedly lowered Social Security bene fits of the 1917-1921 birth cohorts due to a miscalculation in their bene t calculation formula. Preliminary results suggest that Social Security bene fit levels do not affect the probability of return migration for Latin American Social Security beni ficiaries.

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Presented in Session 86: International Migration