For potential immigrants, the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced economic opportunities and increased risks both at home and abroad. We seek to understand how COVID-19 has impacted the calculations that govern one's decision to emigrate. Leveraging a unique panel survey of Guatemalans recently deported from the U.S., we explore how COVID-19 has affected deportees' economic well-being and the intent to re-migrate. We find that while COVID-19 does not measurably decrease deportees' (already poor) current economic conditions, the pandemic increases expectations of being worse off in the next year and uncertainty about future economic conditions. Furthermore, the pandemic also increases uncertainty about whether deportees intend to re-migrate in the coming year. This increase in uncertainty reflects the increased difficulty potential migrants face in weighing relative opportunities and risks during a transnational crisis, even as one's expectations about economic well-being in the home country become more pessimistic.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 2, Issue 1 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part II
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