Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Ann E Kingsolver

Abstract

This thesis explores Nicaraguan migration to Costa Rica as part of a basic employment strategy used by Nicaraguans from poor households to reduce the amount of dependent unemployed members at home and add income, be it small or sporadic, in the form of remittances. Migration to Costa Rica might be the only choice open for those unable to find employment in Nicaragua, evidencing the structural violence that limits options. Sending home remittances is an important reason why many Nicaraguans migrate. However, once in Costa Rica migrants are faced with high living costs and low wages and are often unable to remit or save as much money as they had hoped. Remittances sent home from Costa Rica are used primarily to pay for basic expenses in the sending household and on rare occasions for making investments in the future such as children's college education, land, and housing. The benefits of migration largely depend on migrants' class, gender, legal status, and connections in Costa Rica. While several migrant informants found their time in Costa Rica to be profitable, most return migrants reported that discrimination and lack of access to work permits kept them from reaching their migration goals. Still, relieving pressure on the household by reducing the number of mouths to feed can be a motivation for migration though it is not necessarily articulated by family members due to moral discourses about family and loyalty to family.

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