The Multiplication of Elder Care Strategies in Migrant Indigenous Mexican Families

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Maria MARTINEZ-IGLESIAS, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
This paper shows how international male migration has modified traditional elder care arrangements in indigenous sending communities in Mexico. Traditionally the sons (and daughters in law) were the principal source of support for older people; sons (and daughters in law) reside, provide and care for elder parents who compensate the cooperation of male offspring by transferring them land and/or the house. Since the 90´s, the loss of land value and the permanent migration of the sons (and their wives) have eroded this traditional intergenerational cooperation strategy.

Based on systematic literature review (120 ethnographies and case studies), this paper shows a typology of 4 different elder care strategies to deal with migration: 1) traditional strategies; while migrated son provides economically for his elder parents, his wife would stay and care for her parents in law; 2) reallocation strategies: daughters, who were excluded from previous arrangements, stay with their parents and replaced their brother and sister in-law and they become legitimate heirs;  3) diversification strategies: despite that family land has lost value, sons and daughters cooperate with their parents based on filial piety and not taking into account main future compensations 4) breakout strategies: intergenerational cooperation cannot be reorganized because the descendants are not able or do not want to develop new mechanisms. This (no) strategy is mainly explained by extreme poverty of parents or the failure of the migration project of the sons.

The findings suggest that the factors behind these distinct patterns of parent-child care strategies are related to migration status, income options and the division of labor along gender lines but also with previous cultural norms, that are context specific, and they may not be intuitive to researcher.