670.2 ‘The U.S. is for working, Brazil is for living': Quality of life expectations for Brazilian migrants in the U.S.

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 10:56 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Tiffany JOSEPH , Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Much research has examined how immigrants socioeconomically adapt to and are incorporated into their host societies, generally in the Global North. Yet, less research has explored how these immigrants perceive their quality of life in the host society relative to their home society. Furthermore, less research has explicitly examined how individuals’ motivations for migrating influence migrants’ expectations for their quality of life in the host country.  Using data from interviews with 49 Brazilian return migrants (who migrated to the US and subsequently returned to Brazil) in Governador Valadares, Brazil, I demonstrate how respondents’ quality of life expectations differed based on the country where they were residing. Respondents intended to temporarily migrate to the United States for the purpose of earning money and returning to Brazil to start a business or purchase a house. Therefore, they did not expect to have a “better” quality of life in the US.  Their perception was that life in the US was for working while “living” would occur in Brazil after returning from the US. This perception influenced many respondents’ decisions to work extremely long hours in physically taxing jobs in order to have delayed gratification and relaxation once getting back to Brazil. I also discuss how the return migration was less than ideal for respondents and argue that the respondents led liminal or marginal lives due to their difficulty to readapt to life in Brazil after the US migration.