Brazilians in the US: A Look at Migrants and Transnationalism


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Measuring immigrant transnationalism among Brazilians living in the United States.

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  • The routes for the fieldwork were designed to include remittance agencies that send money to Brazil that are located in areas with large concentrations of Brazilians Orozco studies: one is of remittance senders of 12 different Latin American nationalities remitting from the United States, and the other one is of remittance recipients in Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ecuador
  • Using the 2000 U.S. Census data on the number of legal permanent residents in the U.S. and on non-immigrant (tourist) visas given to Brazilians each year, we calculate the number of Brazilians in the U.S. by the end of 2007, assuming that about 10% of tourists stay in the U.S. and 40% of those already in American return to Brazil the following each year thereafter (as the data on Brazilian migrants shows that about 90% of them live in the U.S. for up to 6 years before returning to Brazil). Our data on Brazilians in the U.S. shows that about 65% of them send remittances, and that they send an average of $700 each time, amounting to about $8,400 a year. Using our estimate that there were about 600,000 Brazilians in the U.S. in 2007 and 65% of them sent remittances of about $700 each month; we calculate the total dollar amount of remittances for 2007. The estimate by the Brazilian Central Bank, however, is closer to $3 billion. Nevertheless, there are known discrepancies inherent in the difficulty of measuring the data on remittance flows.
  • Education: Brazilians rank third in terms of having a college education, after Nicaraguans and Jamaicans 45% of Brazilians have been living in the US for up to 3 years. 91% of them have been in the US between 6 and 8 years Orozco 2005 studies: one of remittance senders of 12 different Latin American nationalities remitting from the United States, and the other of remittance recipients in Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Ecuador
  • Jamaicans have the highest proportion of U.S citizens (56%), followed by Dominicans (43%), Salvadorans (17.3%), Bolivians (16%), Nicaraguans (14%), Mexicans (12.8%) and Guatemalans (12%).
  • Activities: purchasing nostalgic goods, traveling home at least once a year, belonging to an HTA, calling hoe at least 2 times a week. A score of 0 corresponds to participation in none of these activities, a score of 4 indicates participation in all of them.
  • Migrants who hold a citizenship travel more back home, while those who do not travel less. For Brazilians, their lower travel rates may be explained by their intent to stay only for a set period of time in the U.S. before returning permanently to Brazil. For those Brazilians who do travel, most of them do so to stay a considerable amount of time, specifically anywhere from 2-3 weeks to a month. As shown in Table 5, 17 percent of them actually stay for more than 2 months once they decide to travel.
  • Calling home could perhaps be linked to their lower travel rates, as they may be compensating for less personal contact during trips with more frequent long-distance contact with their relatives via phone calls.
  • Brazilians in the US: A Look at Migrants and Transnationalism

    1. 1. Brazilians in the US: A Look at Migrants and Transnationalism Alvaro Lima, Eugenia Garcia-Zanello, and Manuel Orozco
    2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>The transnational activities of migrants have a notable development impact on the host and home countries </li></ul><ul><li>We look at the transnational activities of Brazilians in Massachusetts. To examine them in the broader context, we compare the findings to data from surveys of Latin American migrants in the US by Orozco (2005, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>Summary of Findings: While there are similarities between Brazilians and other migrants, there are some differences - </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brazilians have lower levels of citizenship, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The amount of money they remit home is much higher, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>While they show lower levels of overall transnational engagement, they show greater engagement in terms of communicating with their homeland (via phone, email, etc) </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Methodology <ul><li>Transnationalism: the way and degree to which migrants participate in and maintain relations with fellow countrymen in the host country and country of origin (Orozco 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Transnationalism analyzed via the “ 5 Ts ” – remittances, tourism, travel, telecommunication, and nostalgic trade </li></ul><ul><li>Study conducted in 2008 of Brazilians in Massachusetts—the state with the largest concentration on Brazilians in the US </li></ul><ul><li>Random sample of 250 subjects, intercepted at remittances agencies, was drawn to assure confidence intervals of 6.17% at a confidence level of 95% </li></ul><ul><li>Survey administered by staff trained and supervised by Silvestre HMR&S, included questions from surveys by Orozco in 2003 and 2006 of Latin American migrants in the US </li></ul>
    4. 4. Remittance Flows to Brazil <ul><li>According to our estimates, the number of Brazilians living in the U.S. today may be between 600,000 and 700,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Brazilians living abroad sent $7.2 billion back home in 2008 according to estimates by the Inter-American Development Bank, making Brazil the second largest recipient of remittances in Latin America after Mexico </li></ul><ul><li>According to our estimates, remittances from the U.S. to Brazil were about $3.5 billion in 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Remittances play an important role in the economies of Brazilian migrant-sending states, where 1.3 million Brazilians receive remittances from relatives living abroad (Levy 2006) </li></ul>
    5. 5. Demographics of Brazilian Remitters <ul><li>Brazilian remitters display characteristics that differentiate them from other migrant groups </li></ul><ul><li>Compared to other Latin American migrants (data from surveys by Orozco, 2005), Brazilians are older, more educated and have the highest proportion of people with incomes over US$35,000, and have the lowest proportion of US citizenship </li></ul>Average Age 35.6 years Gender 66% male, 35% female Household Size 3 to 4 people Income 38% earn over $35,000/year Education Level 33% high school, 25% some college Home Ownership 10.8% Business Owners 12.4% U.S. Citizenship 3.2% are citizens Average Years in the U.S. 6 years
    6. 6. Demographics of Brazilian Remitters <ul><li>50% of Brazilians send money home once a month, 33% twice a month, and 9.2% once every 3 months - similar to other groups of remitters </li></ul><ul><li>Like other Latin American cases, mothers and fathers are the main beneficiaries of remittances (36.4%) </li></ul><ul><li>However, monthly remittances of Brazilians ($875) are much higher than the average for other Latin American and Caribbean remitters </li></ul>How is the remittance used or spent by the recipient? Food 24.8% Clothing 17.4% Education 16.1% Medical 11.7% Housing 17.1% Business 7.4% Savings 5.4%
    7. 7. The 5 Ts: Brazilians and Transnationalism <ul><li>To examine the levels of engagement among Brazilians, we developed an index of engagement. The higher the score, the greater the level of engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Compared to other migrants of Latin American origin living in the U.S., Brazilians display slightly lower levels of overall engagement – Why?? </li></ul>Index Score Brazilians LAC migrants 0 4.8% 3.5% 1 54.4% 15.8% 2 32.8% 28.3% 3 7.6% 38.8% 4 0.4% 13.6%
    8. 8. The 5 Ts: Travel <ul><li>83.7% of Brazilians never traveled home since migrating to the US, while only 42.3% of other Latin Americans have never traveled home </li></ul><ul><li>This could be because Brazilians in the US have lower levels of citizenship… </li></ul>Frequency of Travel Home Brazilians (%) LAC (%) Three or more times a year 0.5 2.0 Twice a year 3.3 3.3 Once a year 7.9 18.3 Once every 2 years 1.9 9.3 Once every 3 years 0.9 5.3 Less than once every 3 years 1.9 19.5 Never travelled 83.7 42.3
    9. 9. The 5 Ts: Telecommunication <ul><li>Brazilian migrants call their family more often than other Latin Americans in the US (the average length of each call is over 30 minutes) </li></ul><ul><li>72% send/receive emails to/from people in Brazil, and 87.6% watch television or listen to radio programs that originate from their home country </li></ul>Frequency of Calling Brazilians (%) LAC (%) Two or more times a week 52.6 16.3 Once a week 35.3 37.9 Once every 2 weeks 6.4 23.5 Once a month 4.0 11.5 Less than once a month 1.6 10.8
    10. 10. The 5 Ts: Nostalgic Trade <ul><li>Compared to other Latin Americans in the US Brazilian display similar levels of engagement when it comes to buying nostalgic products </li></ul><ul><li>The most popular products they buy are foods and spices (45.5% of them regularly buy these goods), DVDs and CDs (20.6%), and clothing (17.8%) </li></ul>Nationality   Bolivia 86% Brazil 98% Colombia 92% Dominican Republic 97% El Salvador 88% Ethiopia 78% Ghana 91% India 85% Mexico 99% Nigeria 93% Paraguay 92% Philippines 71% Honduras 90%
    11. 11. The 5 Ts: HTA Membership <ul><li>Levels of engagement by Brazilians are comparable to those of other Latin American migrants in the US, but slightly lower </li></ul>Nationality   Bolivia 6% Brazil 12.4% Colombia 15% Dominican Republic 20% El Salvador 4% Ethiopia 39% Ghana 23% India 13% Mexico 15.5% Nigeria 22% Paraguay 38% Philippines 2% Honduras 8.0%
    12. 12. Conclusions <ul><li>There are both similarities and differences between Brazilians and other Latin Americans migrants in the US as far as sending remittances and other transnational activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Remittances: Brazilians remit more, a smaller percentage of remittance senders has US citizenship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transnational Activities: Lower levels of engagement overall, but greater participation in telecommunications </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These findings give us important insight on the unique characteristics of Brazilian migrants in the US </li></ul>
    13. 13. Additional Considerations… <ul><li>Why do Brazilians send more in remittances than other LA migrants? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost of living in Brazil is higher than in other LA countries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brazilians have lower levels of citizenship and this a higher percent of them plan to return home, so while in USA remit as much as they can </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brazilian migrant profile more middle class families (higher income, more educated than other LA migrants in the US) </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. References <ul><li>Le Franc, Elise and Andrew Downes. 2001. “Measuring Human Development in Countries with Invisible Economies: Challenges Posed by the Informal and Remittance Sectors in Jamaica.” Social and Economic Studies 50(1): 169‐98. </li></ul><ul><li>Levy, Patrick. 2006. “Brazil: Financial Remittances Services in Brazil,” U.S. Department of Commerce. </li></ul><ul><li>Orozco, Manuel. 2005. “Migration, Money and Markets: The New Realities of Central America in Beyond Small Change – Making Immigrant Remittances Count.” Edited by Donald F. Terry and Steven R. Wilson. Inter‐American Development Bank. </li></ul><ul><li>Orozco, Manuel. 2005. “Transnational Engagement, Remittances and Their Relationship to Development in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University. </li></ul><ul><li>Orozco, Manuel. 2008. “Tasting Identity: Trends in Migrant Demand for Home-Country Goods.” Produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development, Washington, DC. </li></ul>