America’s Emigrants (MPI)

A few months back, I mentioned a recent study by the Migration Policy Institiute on Americans who retire abroad. Many of the people that I met in San Miguel participated in the focus groups conducted by MPI, and felt that, although they were getting at some important aspects of retirement migration, the group of researchers were only looking at superficial information about retirement and settlement in SMA and Panama (the other site studied)

Nevertheless, the full study, which is available at the link here, is an important contribution to the study of international retirement migration. The basic overview is this:

  • Americans retire abroad to reduce health care costs and to stretch their retirement incomes
  • Enclave communities are a strong source of social support, but the degree to which Americans integrate with native born populations vary (i.e., fewer Americans in SMA spoke Spanish or integrated with the Mexican population)
  • Americans tend to pick a location for retirement based on research (esp. internet) and several factors: weather, location, local beauty, etc.)
  • Between 1990 and 2000, both Panama and Mexico saw substantial increases in their foreign-born populations (Mexico was up by 17%; Panama by 136)
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