IMMIGRATION OF SCIENTISTS AND TECHNOLOGISTS TO MEXICO: A VIEW FROM ACADEME
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
A sample of about 200 Mexican scientists of foreign origin interviewed by our research group reveals some fascinating aspects of Mexican academic life as experienced by migrants. Qualified migrants to Mexico mostly agree that they were able to enjoy higher living standards and better opportunities as they became integrated to the Mexican academic community.
Mexico has been a haven for Iberian and Latin American intellectuals and academics for most of the 20th century. Migration to Mexico occurred in the form of successive waves, (1) in 1940-1941, from Spain; (2) in 1964-1978, from South America; (3) in 1990-1995, from Eastern Europe; (4) after 2000, from Europe and North America. Earlier waves of immigration resulted primarily from political and economic problems in the countries of origin. The Cárdenas administration (1934-1940) and subsequent Mexican governments generously welcomed refugees from politically hostile regimes. Qualified migrants found jobs and opportunities at universities and research centers, and students and less qualified immigrants were provided facilities for study. Scientists were welcomed into the scientific community. The contribution of qualified migrants to Mexican institutional and cultural life was highly significant, especially in the case of the immigration wave from Spain.
Testimonies collected by our group reflect the positive experience of migrants and their successful integration to the country. Mexico became a member country of OECD and a signatory of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. At present the migration process is more balanced as excellent scientists from Europe and North America compete for openings at Mexican research institutions. Recent immigrants chose Mexico for better career opportunities, an attractive quality of life and the challenge of making a difference.
Mexico joined the open market in the 1980s but science and technology remains dependent on government support. Private universities lag behind in terms of research. Mexico evolves from “brain drain” to “brain market” but the role of migration in development is poorly understood. The insights gained from the experience of migrants are potentially valuable to policymakers, because of the challenge of attracting and retaining more innovators in all areas of science and technology.
Keywords: Migration of scientists, Mexico, surveying techniques, adaptation of migrants.