Economic development, education and migration

Material Information

Economic development, education and migration the case of the commonealth of Puerto Rico
Muñiz-Martinez, Antonio Luis
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vii, 35 leaves : ; 28 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Sociology, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Committee Chair:
Duran-Aydintug, Candan
Committee Members:
Sampaio, Anna C.


Subjects / Keywords:
Since 1952 ( fast )
Puerto Ricans -- United States ( lcsh )
Economic history ( fast )
Emigration and immigration ( fast )
Puerto Ricans ( fast )
Emigration and immigration -- Puerto Rico ( lcsh )
Economic conditions -- Puerto Rico -- 1952- ( lcsh )
Puerto Rico ( fast )
United States ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 33-35).
General Note:
Department of Sociology
Statement of Responsibility:
by Antonio Luis Muñiz-Martinez.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
62783286 ( OCLC )
LD1193.L66 2005m M86 ( lcc )

Full Text
Antonio Luis Muniz-Martinez
B.S., Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2000
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts

This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Antonio Luis Muniz-Martinez
has been approved


Antonio Luis Muhiz-Martinez, (M.A. Sociology)
Economic Development, Education and Migration:
The Case of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
The process of migration is one that is affected by a variety of factors and
conditions prevalent in both, the receiving as well as the sending region/area.
The case of Puerto Rican migrants to the United States is no exception. In this
thesis I concentrate on the conditions related to economic development and
transformation, employment and education prevalent in Puerto Rico between
1975 and 2000 and taking these into consideration I developed a theoretical
model of migration to provide an explanation of how these factors affected the
movement of Puerto Ricans to the United States in the given period of time.
With this model I propose that as Puerto Rico transforms from an agrarian to
an industrial society and as its residents attain higher levels of education to
provide the highly skilled labor needed in an economically developed society,
the levels of migration to the United States decrease.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.

I dedicate this thesis first to Mama Senalda, because the wisdom she conferred
to me growing up ignited a desire to question the events of everyday life.
Second, to my parents Luis and Nery because of their unconditional support in
the course of the last seven years, which allowed me the freedom to follow the
career path of my choosing. And finally to my wife Becky who has been the
principal source of emotional and spiritual support during this transitional and
very significant period of my life.
Le dedico esta tesis, primero a Mama Senalda porque la sabiduria que ella me
impartio como nino encendio el deseo de custionar los eventos de la vida
diaria. Segundo, a mis padres Luis y Nery porque su apoyo incondicional en
los pasados siete anos me permitio la libertad de seguir el camino professional
y educacional de mi preferencia. Finalmente a mi esposa Becky porque ella ha
sido la fuente principal de apoyo emocional y espiritual en este periodo
transitorio tan importante en mi vida.

I first would like to thank Dr Candan Duran-Ayditug for stepping out of her
area of expertise to help me develop this thesis and also for the opportunities
provided in the course of the past two years that have helped me recognize the
career opportunities that lie ahead. Thanks also to Dr Yili Xu and Dr Anna C.
Sampaio whose insights, in the classroom and outside of it, have allowed me
to develop a balanced work and to think of all the angles of an argument.

1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.........................1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW.............................6
3. MODEL........................................16
4. CONCLUSION...................................19

4.1 Migration from Puerto Rico to the United States and the rate of
unemployment, educational attainment and the average monthly total of
laborers employed by the manufacturing, agricultural, fishing and forestry
sectors 1975-2000..................................................20
4.2 Rate of unemployment in the United States 1975-2000...........22

The colonization and evangelization of the American continent
was a process formally started in 1492, when Christopher Columbus,
under the auspices of the Spanish crown, sat foot on the island he
named San Salvador, in the chain of islands now known as the
Bahamas. This episode triggered a process of European imperialism, in
the course of which the most powerful of the countries of Europe sent
their expeditionary teams to scout and colonize land in the American
continent in the name of each of the respective crowns and countries of
Europe. In addition, this started an unprecedented process of massive
migration to the American continent. The process of colonization and
exploration brought Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean for a
second voyage in 1493, year in which the Taino Island then known as
Boriken, was renamed San Juan Bautista in the named of the Spanish
crown (subsequently the Island was renamed Puerto Rico and its
capital San Juan Bautista).
Early in the 16th century (1508) Juan Ponce de Leon, the first
Spanish appointed governor to Puerto Rico was sent to colonize the
Island. During these first years of colonization gold and silver were
extracted from numerous mines, with the help of Taino slave labor,
turning mining into the principal form of economic activity during this
period (Rodriguez 1989). After the bulk of the mines were exhausted
the Spanish government kept the Island of Puerto Rico for its strategic

geographic position and a predominantly agrarian economy that
developed throughout the course of the 17 century (Rodriguez 1989).
This left Puerto Rico as a center for agricultural production for the
growing colonial trade market between Spain and its possessions
during the 18th century (Rodriguez 1989). It is worth to note here that
the aforementioned period was described by Wallerstein (1980) as the
early stages in the development of the capitalist World System, in
which (I add), Puerto Rico occupied the position of peripheral region
producing for the core metropolis that was Spain at the time.
Throughout these years a class of Puerto Ricans emerged that
actively sought greater political autonomy for the Island. Many of
these individuals lived in Puerto Rico, others traveled throughout the
American continent and the Spanish possessions, while others came to
form the first cohorts of Puerto Rican migrants to New York City. The
work and activism of these individuals paid off when in the 19th
century the Spanish government granted Puerto Rico a Charter of
Autonomy that among the rights conferred included: voting
representation to the Spanish parliament; the right to participate in
negotiations for, and to reject or ratify, economic treaties that affected
the Island; and the right to set tariffs on imports and exports
(Rodriguez 1989).
In the case of the North American continent, Great Britain played a
major role throughout the early years of colonization, and it was the
British immigrant-colonizers and their descendants whom established
the first 13 colonies that preceded the United States of America.
Following the British, African slaves were brought involuntarily to
help in the area of labor. The new frontiers opened in the American
continent (at the expense of its Native residents) brought European

immigrants in great numbers and for a variety of reasons, economic
opportunity being one among others. For example, in the 19th Century
the construction of the Hudson canal brought Irish and Italian workers
along the (Hudson) river inland in the Eastern part of the continent.
Also, Finnish and other Scandinavians, because of their expertise, were
hired to work the copper and timber industries in the upper Midwest;
Chinese coolies were deliberately recruited and brought mostly to the
west coast to provide badly needed labor for the expansion of the
railway system; and Mexicans, whose immigration was not regulated
at the time, also helped with railway construction and agriculture
(Portes and Rumbaut, 1992).
The 19th Century saw a decline in the power exercised by the
European colonial powers in the American continent. While some
countries achieved their political independence from the European
Metropolises, others were actively seeking it. Moreover, the world saw
the rise of a new economic and colonial power, the United States of
America. The power and dominance of the United States was further
consolidated when at the turn of the 20 century it went to war against
the declining Spanish Empire (Trias-Monge 1996). The Hispano-
American War, as it was known, led the United States to invade the
last two Spanish possessions in the American continent, the islands of
Puerto Rico and Cuba. After decisively taking both islands (and other
Spanish possessions in the Pacific e.g. The Philippines) the United
States effectively won the Hispano-American War and settled the
conflict with Spain with the Treaty of Paris of 1898 (Trias-Monge
1996). This treaty officially granted control over Puerto Rico and other
Spanish possessions to the United States. Although some of the newly
acquired possessions were granted independence relatively soon (e.g.

Cuba in 1902), Puerto Rico was not one of them and it has remained a
colony of the United States to date, going from a military occupied
territory at the beginning of the 20th Century to a Commonwealth by
mid 20th Century, (Trias-Monge 1996).
Since the invasion of 1898, Puerto Ricans have lobbied the United
States Congress (the branch of the US government with the ultimate
say in Puerto Rican affairs) in attempts to gain more of the rights
enjoyed by US states and/or of sovereign nations. One important
achievement of this lobby was the granting to Puerto Ricans of a form
of US Citizenship through the Jones Act of 1917 (Trias-Monge 1996).
US Citizenship granted Puerto Ricans many of the rights US citizens
enjoyed in the mainland, among them the ability to travel back and
forth freely from the island to the continental United States and within
the United States without the immigration restrictions to which
international immigrants are subjected to. This proved to be important
later on for the process of migration.
The US occupation of Puerto Rico transformed its economy from a
diversified, subsistence economy (in which sugar cane, tobacco and
coffee were produced for exportation) to a monocrop economy of sugar
cane for exportation to the United States, 60% of which was controlled
by absentee US owners (Rodriguez 1989). As the sugar cane industry
declined in the 1920s, and in the absence of other industry to take its
place, a large number of Puerto Ricans found themselves unemployed
and poor, and with an ever increasing population in the Island with no
adequate access to employment opportunities and other economic
resources, a great number of Puerto Ricans made use of the
opportunities afforded by their new citizenship status and as so one of
the first waves of Puerto Rican (now US citizens) migrants to the US

was under way (Rodriguez 1989). This process continued, mostly
influenced by conditions in the Island. Later on in the 1940s, due to a
shortage of agricultural labor experienced in the Northeastern United
States as a consequence of World War II, Puerto Ricans were
deliberately recruited in the Island to fulfill these labor needs as well as
the labor needs of the industrial sectors (Enchautegui 1992). This
process of labor recruitment helped establish a network of migration
that brought to the eastern United States, and overwhelmingly to New
York State, Puerto Ricans in great numbers.

In this section I would like to concentrate on one issue and this is
economic development and educational attainment in Puerto Rico and
their relation to migration. More specifically I ask: Given the economic
development and restructuring (in the economy) that has taken place
under the Commonwealth, the higher educational attainment of Puerto
Ricans in recent times and the increase in employment opportunities
enjoyed by Puerto Ricans since the 1980s, has there been a decrease in
Puerto Rican migration to the United States?
Utilizing a Marxist theoretical framework one could explain the
dynamics of Puerto Rican migration to the United States, as Campos
and Bonilla suggested (1976). The establishment of US manufacturing
enterprises in Puerto Rico in the late 1940s and the 1950s had the
effect of transforming the Puerto Rican economy from an agrarian to
an industrial economy that produced goods to be consumed in the US.
This transformation, in turn, had the effect of reproducing in Puerto
Rico a structure of employment similar to that of the US (Campos,
Bonilla 1976) and provided Puerto Ricans needed industrial
employment training. This effectively turned Puerto Rico into a center
of production for the United States, furthermore, making Puerto Ricos
economy more dependent on patterns of consumption in the United
States and effectively developing a system of economy in Puerto Rico
that is more like a component of the US economic system rather than

an independent economy. But this transformation in the economy also
brought its benefits to the Island, not only providing new employment
opportunities in the new industrial sector, but also in the emerging
service sector, a factor that helped (and continue to help) decrease
unemployment rates in the Island. As Puerto Rico continued its
transformation from a mostly rural Island to Urban (by 1970 only 10%
of the Island was considered rural), opportunities for agriculture, which
was the principal source of employment and subsistence prior to the
industrial transformation, decreased. Combining this, with the inability
of the new industrial and service sectors to provide employment to an
increasingly young and growing population characteristic of a
developing country, we are left with an unusually high number of
unemployed and underemployed individuals who come to form an
industrial reserve army of potential labor (Campos, Bonilla 1976).
Industrial Reserve Army refers to the group of individuals who may
have the skills and training needed to participate in the workforce but
who are unemployed or underemployed at any given time and are
ready to take employment opportunities whenever and wherever these
are available. So consequently given that there was a low potential for
employment in Puerto Rico, that the industrial reserve army had
become acquainted with a US employment structure and had obtained
needed industrial employment training, and that there was employment
available in the United States, an increase migration of Puerto Ricans
to the United States was observed. This was specifically noticeable
during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s, the period described by
Rodriguez (1989) as the Great Migration. In turn it could be said that
the US labor market served as a safety valve to relieve the pressure
exerted in the Puerto Rican labor market by a young, willing and able

to work surplus population (this term refers to the additional number
of young and willing workers that cannot be absorbed by the labor
market in a country or region characterized by a growing population,
thus they are described as surplus). Reciprocally, Puerto Rico provided
US manufacturing companies with a source of cheap labor, given that
the United States Federal Governments minimum wage requirement
did not apply to US companies (or other businesses) in Puerto Rico
until 1977 (Santiago 1993).
The problem with this system arises when the United States
economy becomes stagnant as it happened in the 1970s (Campos,
Bonilla 1976). This period of recession not only decreased employment
opportunities in the United States but also decreases its residents
buying power, thus affecting Puerto Ricos economy since it had been
developed to serve the interests of the United States consumer. So, as
opportunities for employment decrease, both in the United States and
Puerto Rico, and as migration to the United States loses its ability to
serve as a safety valve for the surplus of Puerto Rican workers,
unemployment in Puerto Rico rises and migration to the United States
hits a plateau (or even decreases), since employment opportunities for
the Puerto Rican worker in the United States as well as in Puerto Rico
are perceived to be the same.
Now, adding education allows the development of a more complex
model of migration that interlocks with the previously described
economic model. Education plays an important role for an
economically dependant colony like Puerto Rico (and for the United
States) for the reason that it provides the (US) industrial sector
establishing in Puerto Rico a better prepared, highly skilled workforce
while at the same time prepares those bound to form the Industrial

Reserve Army to be ready at any time to migrate, if needed, for the
betterment of their employment opportunities, and to fulfill labor needs
in the United States. But up until the 1940s the educational system in
Puerto Rico had concentrated on providing its beneficiaries with
agricultural and vocational skills more suitable for a subsistence
economy and not for an industrial economy, skills that enable the
underemployed Puerto Rican to supplement the low wages earned
(Caban 2002). With Operation Bootstrap (which started in 1947) the
educational system of the Island acquired a new focus and it was that
of producing skilled and disciplined workers to serve the emerging
industrial economy (Rodriguez 1989). This lack of training for those
educated before this period was demonstrated by the pattern of
settlement of the first cohorts of Puerto Rican migrants (those starting
in the 1920 and well into the 1960s) to the United States. These first
cohorts of (Puerto Rican) migrants to the United States were composed
of Puerto Ricans who at first seemed unwilling to assimilate to US
mainstream culture. These were the ones who established mainly in
New York, in what Hernandez-Alvarez (1968) referred to as colonias.
These Puerto Ricans were, like previous migrant cohorts of Europeans,
regionally concentrated in areas where others of their ethnic
background lived in order to ease their transition into the new culture.
For example, in 1960 New York City hosted 72% of the about 800,000
Puerto Ricans that lived in the United States (Enchautegui 1992). Not
surprisingly, this cohort of migrants came to New York City
in the late 1940s through the early 1950s, the time of the early stages
of development of Operation Bootstrap and of the Commonwealth, the
period of the transition to the current style of US industrial capitalism
that now prevails in Puerto Rico.

Because Puerto Ricans in the Island at this point in time were not
as exposed to US culture and institutions as they would become later
on, and because their levels of education and training developed in the
Island were not as suitable for the economy as those of latter cohorts, it
seemed especially important to settle in areas where other Puerto
Ricans lived. This allowed for a way to ease the transition into US
culture while at the same time to compensate for lower levels of human
capital in a place that at that time provided more opportunities than the
Island, like New York City. This pattern of migration and settlement
follows a similar pattern to the one of other ethnic minorities that settle
in the United States, like the one of the Mexican immigrants to
mention an example (United States Census 2000,2003). This pattern
has shown that individuals belonging to any given ethnic minority
group migrating into the United States with lower levels of marketable
skills and human capital will be more likely to establish in areas where
there is a higher concentration of members of their own ethnic group to
compensate for their lower levels of human capital (Portes and
Rumbaut 1992).
Evidence of this decline in regional concentration has been
provided previously by Hernandez-Alvarez (1968) and Enchautegui
(1992) in separate studies. For example, while in 1970 66.2% of the
Puerto Ricans living in the United States lived in New York City by
1985 this percentage had dropped to 48.7% (Bean and Tienda 1987,
cited in Enchautegui 1992). I suggest this decline has continued on. On
the other side Florida was host to 0.2% of the Puerto Rican population
in the United States in 1970, and by 1985 this percentage had increased
to 6.3% (Bean and Tienda 1987 cited in Enchautegui 1992). Here, the
trend seems to be that as Puerto Ricans spend more time in an

economically developed surrounding, gain higher levels of human
capital, among this including educational attainment (be it in the
United States, or in Puerto Rico now that the Island is more
economically developed), they tend to be less regionally concentrated
and more apt to be upwardly mobile in the social strata when migration
occurs (either within the United States or from Puerto Rico).
Fitzpatrick (1968) referred to this as the pains of creative growth.
Further proof of this process of creative growth was provided by
Kantrowitz (1968) who argued that by 1960 the Puerto Rican
population in the United States as a whole had overcome much of the
initial disadvantages present at the time of the first massive migrant
cohort of the late 1940s. In the Island non migrant residents have also
endured this pains of creative growth, and I argue that now the
Puerto Rican population in the Island has attained higher levels of
education as a whole (which allows them to fulfill labor needs in
highly skilled industrial sectors) and thus its less likely to migrate.
This change in migration and settlement patterns of Puerto Ricans
to the United States is also tied to a variety of factors that could be
explained conducting a World Systems (theory) Analysis. This
framework of analysis was developed by Immanuel Wallerstein after
conducting extensive research in Africa and concluding that the level
of interdependence within the countries of the world is such that a
society or state could not be understood as standing alone (Adams and
Sydie 2001). Rather a country is better understood in relation to its
position within the World System in the core, the periphery and the
semiperiphery. This World System has taken essentially the form of a
capitalist world economy, that started in Europe in the 16th century and
that came to existence after the transformation in the modes of

production, from feudalism to capitalism took place (Wallerstein
1980). In it the core is composed by those countries and societies that
control capital and investment in the world system, and that throughout
history have exercised dominance over the means of production
appropriated from the periphery through political and economical
dominance (political and economic colonialism) (Wallerstein 1980).
On the other hand there is the periphery, which is composed in the
most part by those countries in which core capital is invested for
production, and where human resources and materials are cheap, which
allows for a high return for the investment. These (peripheral)
countries are those that throughout much of their history have not been
politically or economically independent, some politically dependent
due to their colonial status subject to core metropolises, and
economically dependent because of the great deal of control exercised
over their resources by the core (Wallerstein 1980). Then is the
semiperiphery, which serves as the buffer between the core and the
periphery (Adams and Sydie, 2001). The semiperiphery is composed
by those countries of the world where some production for
consumption in the core still takes place. These countries are not as
dependent on core capital for investment, but rather own and control a
great deal of the capital invested. In other words, semiperipheral
countries are not part of the core because they still produce for, and
rely on some core investment for continued economic development,
but are not periphery neither because unlike peripheral countries, these
countries have capital of their own (Wallerstein 1980).
Baerga and Thompson (1990) have argued that Puerto Rico would
likely fall within the World System into the semi-periphery, having
characteristics of both, the core and the periphery (this exemplifies

what Wallerstein suggested in 1980 on how throughout history the
World System shifts and as so countries could move within it). For
example, some industrial production still takes place in Puerto Rico
(peripheral characteristic) mostly for consumption in the United States
(recipient in the core). On the other hand, various multinational
corporations have established operations in Puerto Rico to oversee
production in other areas of the Caribbean and Latin America, thus
promoting the development of white collar employment (core
characteristic) (Baerga, Thompson 1990). To put it in numbers, by
1984 the percentage of white collar jobs in the Puerto Rican economy
was 47% of the workforce, compared to 33% that was blue collar in the
same year (Baerga and Thompson 1990).
The increase in white collar employment availability fostered an
increase in the educational level of the labor force, this in order to
provide the new and emerging industrial economy with the labor
needed for continued development. By 1984, about 64% of the
employed and 49% of the unemployed had completed 12 or more years
of schooling, compared with 46% and 32% respectively in 1974
(Baerga, Thompson 1990). This increase in education could have also
caused many Puerto Ricans who previously would have taken
employment in the agricultural and industrial blue collar sectors of the
economy to aim at obtaining employment in the white collar sector.
This is where Puerto Ricos peripheral neighbor, the Dominican
Republic comes into the picture. It has been recorded in the past that
Dominicans leave their country in search of better luck to Puerto
Rico, and for that they are willing to fulfill employment needs at the
bottom of the Puerto Rican labor strata that Puerto Ricans are not
willing to fulfill (Baerga, Thompson 1990). Because of the availability

of blue collar and agricultural employment in Puerto Rico, many
Dominicans have migrated to the Island, via the documented and
undocumented routes, to fulfill the need of workers in these areas
(Baerga, Thompson 1990). On the other hand with the increase in
education of the Puerto Rican population, surpluses of white collar
workers have surfaced, and many of them, not able to find adequate
employment opportunities in Puerto Rico, migrate to the United States
in search of better opportunities for employment. This phenomenon is
referred to by Portes and Rumbaut (1992) as relative deprivation. This
is what I consider to be the key difference between the earlier and latter
cohorts of Puerto Rican migrants to the United States. The first cohorts
were composed of lower skilled workers who were squeezed out of
the island into the industrial centers of the east coast of the United
States because the economy in Puerto Rico at the time could not absorb
the surplus workforce. The latter cohorts were also squeezed out of
the Island because of what could be a shortage in employment for
higher skilled workers and also higher wages and employment
opportunities in the United States. Now, these latter cohorts, because of
their higher levels of education and skills look for opportunities
wherever they might present themselves, be it Minnesota (not
necessarily a traditional destination) or Florida (which more recently
has become a common destination for Puerto Rican migrants). This
latter pattern of migration and settlement is similar to that one followed
by professional international immigrants, whom because of their higher
levels of human capital and education settle where their skills are more
marketable (Portes and Rumbaut 1992).
Enchautegui (1992), in her study of the Socioeconomic Status of
Puerto Ricans found that among non mover Puerto Rican women

living in New York in 1980, only 3.4% had a college degree, compared
to 20.4% of recent Puerto Rican migrants to Florida. The average age
of both samples was real close, with those living in New York
averaging 37.4 yrs of age and those migrating to Florida having an
average of 36.7 years. This shows evidence of the higher levels of
educational attainment and human capital among the recent cohorts of
migrants that are not regionally concentrated compared to those who
go to the traditional destinations where there are a high number of
Puerto Ricans residing, in an attempt to make up for their lower levels
of human capital.
Acevedo in a study sponsored by the Puerto Rican Planning Board
(2003) found further evidence of the increase in human capital and of
education of the Puerto Rican population as a whole and more
specifically by Puerto Rican migrants to the US. It was found that
16.5% of Puerto Ricans in the Island have a University level degree
(this is below the level in the US), and 60% have at least finished High
School (close the level in the US). In addition 25.6% of recent Puerto
Rican migrants to the US have also attained this level of post
secondary education. These data demonstrates not only a higher level
of human capital for a higher number of Puerto Ricans in the Island,
but also the trend that a higher percentage of recent cohorts of Puerto
Rican migrants have also higher levels of human capital than previous
cohorts as well. In addition it is worth to note that the majority of
Puerto Ricans effecting the migration to the United States are doing so
due to perceived relative deprivation given that 65.3% of recent
migrants were employed at the time of migration and migrated for
higher wages outside the Island.

Total migration from Puerto Rico to the United States increased
steadily up until the 1980s and since then it has started to decrease. At
the same time, in the 30 year period between 1950 and 1980, the period
in which Puerto Rican migration to the United States hit its peak (more
specifically by the mid 1970s) the Island went through a process of
industrialization that as others have argued (Campos and Bonilla 1976,
Ortiz 1986) did not necessarily create enough employment
opportunities for the then displaced agricultural workers and the
growing young population of the Island. In addition US manufacturing
companies establishing in Puerto Rico during this period of time were
not required to abide to the Federal Governments minimum wage
policies and thus wages in Puerto Rico were still relatively low
(Santiago 1993). But by 1977 all US manufacturing companies
established and/or planning to establish in Puerto Rico, as well as other
businesses in the Island were required to adopt minimum wage policies
as set by the Federal Government and this was found by Santiago
(1993) to also cause an overall increase in all wages and subsequently a
reduction in net migration from the Island to the United States.
Santiago (1993) concluded his study suggesting that although
economic factors are not the only forces that influence migration, they
do constitute an important element in the analysis of mobility.
Consistent with this I suggest that as Puerto Rico develops

economically, and as this development provides more employment to
its citizens (thus carrying lower unemployment rates than in the past),
and as employment participation in the agricultural and fishing
industries decreases, combined with increases in manufacturing and
industrial employment, migration to the United States will continue to
decrease. Furthermore, up until 1980 there had been a steady increase
in the educational attainment of Puerto Ricans in the Island. This
increase in educational attainment among the general population is
consistent with the transformation from an agrarian to an industrial
society, which as it transforms it increasingly needs more educated
individuals to manage this transformation and to fulfill the need for
highly skilled employees, in the Island as well as in the United States.
In turn I suggest that as the educational attainment of the Puerto Rican
population and the rate of those employed by the industrial sector
increase, coupled with a decrease in the rate of those employed by the
agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors, we will see a consistent
decrease in the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States. In
other words, utilizing some economic indicators I argue that as Puerto
Rico develops economically and produces a more educated labor force
that finds more employment opportunities in the Island, (Puerto Rican)
migration to the United States steadily decreases.

The data on migration presented on the following chapter comes
from the United States Bureau of the Census. More specifically, the
migration total for the period 1975-1980 was obtained from the 1980
Public Use Sample, which was published in a research article (Ortiz
1986), while the migration totals for the periods 1980-1990 and 1990-
2000 were obtained from the US Bureau of the Census Population
Division Working Paper #64, Evaluating Components of International
Migration: Migration Between Puerto Rico and the United States (see
appendix A for more information). The data on Educational Attainment
was obtained form Decennial Census Data for the years 1980, 1990 and
2000. The economic development data (rate of unemployment, total
employed by the manufacturing sector and total employed by the
agricultural, fishing and forestry sector) come from the Puerto Rican
Planning Board, Sub Program of Statistics (Junta de Planificacion de
Puerto Rico, Sub Programa de Estadisticas). These data is collected on a
month by month basis. Utilizing Microsoft Excel I calculated a five year
average for the period of 1975-1980 for each of the variables, and a ten
year average for the periods of 1980-1990 and 1990-2000 for the same
variables. This allowed me to come up with an aggregate number for
each of the (five and ten year) time periods in question which then could
be compared to the aggregate migration number for the same periods.
The rate of unemployment in the United States from 1975 to 2000 was
obtained from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The educational attainment of Puerto Ricans in the Island has been
found to be steadily increasing since the 1970s. By 1980, only 39.7% of
the Puerto Rican population had completed High School, and this
increased to 60% of the population by 2000, or 20.3%. Also, the
percentage of those completing a Bachelors degree almost doubled in the
same period, increasing from 9.4% in 1980 to a little over 18% by 2000. In
addition, in the same period of time the average rate of unemployment on a
month by month basis decreased by 4.25%, from 18.28% to 14.03%
average monthly unemployment rate. Given that in this period of time
Puerto Ricos population grew by over 1 million residents (from almost 3
million to almost 4 million), and assuming that as population grew, so did
the labor force, we could say that the Puerto Rican economy is now more
apt to provide employment to an ever growing labor force. This is because
in a period of time when the population and the labor force continued to
grow, the unemployment rate decreased. This ability to provide
employment to an ever growing labor force could be explained by the
continued shift taking place in the economy towards industrialization.
In this same period of time, the monthly average of laborers
employed by the agricultural, fishing and forestry sector decreased from
40,150 in the period from 1975-1980 to 31,246 for 1990-2000 ten year
period. Furthermore, the monthly average of laborers employed in the

manufacturing sector grew from 137,440 in the five year period between
1975-1980 to 164,126 for the 1990-2000 ten year period. This
demonstrates further expansion in the manufacturing sector, which could
be interpreted as further industrialization and economic development.
Table 4.1: Migration from Puerto Rico to the United States and the rate of
unemployment, educational attainment and the average monthly total of laborers
employed by the manufacturing, agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors 1975-2000
Migration (in thoudands) Educational Attainment (population 25+) Rate of Unemployment Monthly average of laborers employed in manufacturing Monthly average of laborers employed in agriculture, fishing and forestry
1975-1980 100,360 1980 HS: 39.7% Bachelors Degree: 9.4% 18.28% 137,440 40,150
1980-1990 126,465 1990 HS: 49.7% Bachelors Degree: 14.3% 18.64% 149,716 37,345
1990-2000 111,336 2000 HS: 60% Bachelors Degree: 18.3% 14.03% 164,126 31,246
At the same time, while these changes have been taking place there
has been a decrease in migration. In the five year period from 1975-1980
the United States Bureau of the Census Public Use Samples estimated that
100,360 Puerto Ricans migrated to the United States. This number
increased to an estimated 126,465 for the 1980-1990 ten year period; it
then decreased to 111,336 for the 1990-2000 tern year period. Now
considering that the first estimate is a five year estimate (which has been
used for lack of a better estimate, see Appendix A) we could say that
migration has been steadily decreasing since 1980. We cannot make the
assumption that for the five year period preceding 1975 a similar number

of Puerto Ricans made the trek north to the United States given that in that
period of time a severe economic recession was under way in the United
States; furthermore Campos and Bonilla (1976) point out that in the 1970-
1975 five year period a considerable number of return migration to Puerto
Rico occurred. But given the slow recovery of the US economy in the late
1970s and the delayed effects of this recovery in Puerto Rico (some argue
the Puerto Rican economy did not start its recovery until well into the
1980s), it could be assumed that the net number of Puerto Rican migrants
to the United States at the end of the 1970s was higher than that one at the
beginning of the decade. Here, I propose that the decrease we had seen
between 1980 and 1990 and 1990 and 2000 is consistent with an increased
level of economic development occurring in Puerto Rico in the last 20
years of the 20th century, and with economic recovery occurring in the
United States.
Economic recovery in the United States is important because a
healthy economy in the United States is more apt to provide employment
to more of its residents and as a consequence increases its consumers
buying power. Evidence of economic recovery and growth in the United
States could be found by looking at changes in the rate of unemployment,
given that as an economy recovers and grows, it is more apt to provide
employment to its laborers. As table 4.2 shows, the rate of unemployment
in the United States between 1980 and 1990 was at a yearly average of
7.12%, while between 1990 and 2000 it was 5.59%.
Coincidently, migration from Puerto Rico to the United States and the rate
of unemployment in Puerto Rico were higher in the ten year period
between 1980 and 1990 than between 1990 and 2000. Based on this
information I suggest that in periods of economic hardship in the United
State the Puerto Rican economy also suffers, which is in part demonstrated

by a higher rate of unemployment in the Island. As a consequence we see
an increase in Puerto Rican migration to the United States. This is because,
even though the United States is still carrying a relatively high rate
unemployment, this rate is still lower to that one of Puerto Rico, thus
demonstrating how the United States economy is still better able to
provide employment in the course of this periods of time. This in turn
could serve as a pull factor that increases migration to the United States.
Table 42 Rate of unemployment
in the United States 1975-2000
Year Period Average Rate of Unemployment
1975-1980 7.05%
1980-1990 7.12%
1990-2000 5.59%
Based on this information, I would like to propose a model that
could explain the dynamics of this migration utilizing the previously
described data. For starters, for an effective process of industrialization to
occur, the country or region (in this case Puerto Rico) needs to develop a
labor force that would be able to sustain development. This is where
education comes into play. In the case of Puerto Rico, an educational
system was developed (as Pedro Albizu Campos suggested of the
educational system in the United States) to produce a skilled and obedient
workforce. To do so, the state encourages its students to (at least) complete
a secondary education that would provide them with the tools necessary to
enter and succeed in an industrialized economy. But this is not enough
since the system also needs managers and other workers with specialized
training to help sustain the system (in addition specialized training is
needed for others who would help sustain the overall societal system, like
Physicians and Engineers to mention two examples). Here is where the
importance of encouraging some to acquire a college education comes into

play. Once an educational system of this sort is in place, and once it is
producing enough skilled workers, sustainable industrial development
could take place. In the case of Puerto Rico, evidence of this process could
be seen in how in the 25 year period I observed the percentage of those
completing high school increased from 39.7% in 1980 to 60% by 2000,
and the percentage of those completing a bachelors degree doubled in the
same period of time (9.4% to 18%). Continuing this chain reaction, in that
same period of time the average monthly total of those employed in the
manufacturing sector increased by almost 27,000. This demonstrates that
as the educational system produces the labor necessary for an
industrialized society, further industrial expansion becomes feasible.
Furthermore, industrialization and economic development not only spur
opportunities for employment in the industrial sector, but also in other
sectors of the economy, that help support an industrial society (e.g. service
and construction sector). This is demonstrated by the fact that in the period
of time observed, even though the population of Puerto Rico increased by
1/3 (from almost 3 million in 1980 to almost 4 million in 2000), a decrease
in unemployment of over 4% was observed.
In relation to World Systems analysis, I would suggest that within
the world system there are colonial powers that form a subsystem of their
own, not separate but as part of the larger World System. These
subsystems are controlled from the core by core countries. These core
countries utilize their (political and economic) power over the colonial
subjects of the periphery and the semi periphery to support themselves and
to certain extent, decrease their reliance on countries within the world
system that fall outside the subsystem. An example of this is presented by
the case of (peripheral/semiperipheral) Puerto Rico and its relation to the
(core) United States. The annexation of Puerto Rico and the (later)

granting of United States citizenship to its residents served a two fold
purpose. On one side it provided United States corporations (at first to
agricultural corporations and later to manufacturing ones) with a low
cost/low wage center for the production of goods to be consumed in the
United States (peripheral characteristic). On the other side, and more
directly related to the central theme of this work, it provided the industrial
system of the United States with a pool of yet unexploited laborers. These
laborers were subjected to education and training in Puerto Rico for, one,
to help support sustainable industrial and economic development in Puerto
Rico, and two, to fulfill labor needs in the United States in times of
shortages. When labor shortages and employment opportunities surfaced in
the United States, and when opportunities for employment were not
attractive in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans made use of their unrestricted
migration status and migrated to the United States. Given that these
individuals had been educated and trained in Puerto Rico to survive in, and
sustain an industrially developing/developed area, their transition to the
United States became almost seamless and the economy of the industrially
developed area that is the United States was allowed to continue efficient
functioning. So, within this subsystem we have a core composed of the
United States and a periphery composed by its colonial subjects, in this
case Puerto Rico. Because the residents of the colony have the citizenship
status of the core their migration to the core is unrestricted and could take
place relatively easy. Furthermore, because the economy and educational
system in the colony had been developed to support industrialization,
employment shortages occurring in the periphery, coupled with labor
needs in the core, could elicit a trend of increased migration to the core.
On the other hand, when economic development takes place in the

periphery, providing more employment opportunities for its residents,
migration to the core hits a plateau or even decreases.
This work is somewhat limited in terms of the data that have been
presented. Having more accurate estimates of monthly migration from
Puerto Rico to the United States would have allowed me to correlate
monthly changes in the number of migrants, to each of the economic
indicators that has been presented. Doing this would have allowed me to
watch more closely how changes in unemployment and increased
opportunities in the manufacturing sector affect the process of migration.
In terms of strengths, I feel I have been able to provide some evidence of
sustainable economic development taking place in Puerto Rico, and that
this development is coupled with a decrease in migration to the United
States. I propose that for a future work monthly estimates of migration are
used, in addition with monthly estimates of other economic indicators, like
Gross Domestic Product and Personal Income, to further asses the
economic development of the Island as well as its relation to the migration
pattern to the United States.

The methods and criteria used by the United States Bureau of the
Census do not count Puerto Ricans as (international) immigrants due to
their status as US citizens. Given that Puerto Ricans do not have to apply
for entry into the United States with the Bureau of Citizenship and
Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security (previously
known as the INS) to enter the United States, the US Bureau of the Census
only has two methods to measure the flow of Puerto Ricans into the United
The first method is the Census population survey which is
conducted the last five years of each decade and in which 5% of the
population in the US is surveyed. Here individuals are asked about their
place of residence five years ago. If the individual lived in Puerto Rico five
years ago and somewhere in the United States at the time of the survey,
then this individual is counted as a Puerto Rican migrant. Following this
the Bureau of Census produces an estimate of Puerto Rican migration for
the given time period of 5 years based on the population surveyed.
The second of these methods was developed in 2002 to produce
new revised numbers for the decades of 1980-90 and 1990-2000. The new
method is somewhat more complicated, but it is supposed to produce more
accurate numbers. To summarize it: first the total population for the decade
is calculated utilizing, births, deaths, and net international immigration to

Puerto Rico, (this is known as RUP-Rural Urban Projection program), then
the base population is surveyed at the end of each year, added to form a ten
year total and then this second number is subtracted from the RUP number
to obtain a net emigration total (US Census Bureau of the Census 2002).

When the first substantial cohorts of Puerto Rican migrants reached the
United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s the majority of the
migrants were males. This pattern is consistent with the migration
patterns of other immigrant groups coming to the United States, like for
example that of Mexican males, whom traditionally are more likely to
migrate than Mexican females (Ortiz, 1996). Now, by the time Puerto
Rican migration to the United States had reached its peak in the early
1960s a considerable number of females were making their way north to
the United States, compromising 49% of the 1960 cohort (Ortiz 1996).
This gradual increase in the number of Puerto Rican females migrating
to the United States continued and by 1980 Puerto Rican female
migrants compromised the majority (55%) of all Puerto Rican migrants
to the United States (Ortiz 1996).
The factors that influenced Puerto Ricans, and more specifically
Puerto Rican females to migrate to the United States were various, but it
has been argued that one of the most influential factors was the process
of industrialization and economic restructuring that took place in the
Island in the 1950s as part of Operation Bootstrap, which consisted of a
series of tax incentives developed to encourage the establishment of US
manufacturing companies in Puerto Rico (Landale, Ogena 1995). Ortiz
(1996) argues that the process of industrialization had direct effects on
the lives of women by creating changes in the labor market and (on)

government policies regarding migration and fertility control. This
because although the process of industrialization created a good number
of new employment opportunities outside the home for females at the
time, it appears it did not create enough for the demand for employment
presented by an ever increasing female labor force. In turn a combination
of, policies to encourage migration by the Puerto Rican government
(Ortiz 1996), the prospects of employment in the United States
(especially in the industrial centers of the Northeastern United States)
and the freedom of entry into the United States afforded by Puerto
Ricans status as US citizens (Landale, Ogena 1995) all exerted a degree
of influence in the increases in female Puerto Rican migration to the
United States in the 1950s and on.
In addition it is argued that the initial migration of Puerto Rican
males to the United States also may have created a network of migration
that eventually brought to the United States more females than males. As
the word made to the Island about the opportunities for employment in
the United States an increasing number of Puerto Rican women and their
families migrated to the United States to places like New York City and
Chicago in search of better employment prospects to help them deal with
their economic hardships (Toro-Mom 1995). Also many married and
single Puerto Rican men migrated to the aforementioned industrial
centers to establish employment and housing and their wives and/or
wives to be followed once these (employment and housing) were secured
(Toro-Mom 1995). Another factor influencing the increase of Puerto
Rican females migrating to the United States is marital status since it has
been found that unmarried Puerto Rican women are more likely to
migrate than married women (Enchautegui 1992, Ortiz 1996).

Now, certain conditions in Puerto Rico have also served as a
cooling factor in regard to the decreasing numbers of overall (male and
female), as well as of females migrating to the United States. As
previously mentioned, Puerto Rican migration to the United States
reached a peak in the early 1970s and since the numbers have steadily
decreased or have stayed constant depending on a variety of factors.
Education and employment in Puerto Rico are two important factors that
have been mentioned in previous studies and that I argue in this thesis
are two of the most influential factors in the migration process. Women
who do not have a job in Puerto Rico are more likely to migrate to the
United States than women who are employed in Puerto Rico, and women
with higher education, and consequently better employment prospects in
Puerto Rico are less likely to migrate to the United States (Ortiz 1996).
In relation to this thesis I would expect that higher levels of educational
attainment among the Puerto Rican population as whole as well as lower
levels of unemployment (and consequently more opportunities for
employment) would also decrease the number of Puerto Rican migrants
(of either gender) to the United States.

Considering the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United
States, I ask, Given that Puerto Ricans have a cultural identity of their own,
and that also speak a different language than what is spoken in the United
States, do US residents perceive Puerto Ricans as migrants or as
immigrants, insiders or outsiders, foreigners or residents? Is the process of
migration that brought (and still brings) Puerto Ricans to the United States
influenced by the same factors and follows the same patterns of
international immigrants?
In US society, though many are aware of the citizenship status of
Puerto Ricans, many look at, and group Puerto Ricans with the larger
Latin/Hispanic group of international immigrants and minorities. Given
that before the United States invasion of 1898, Puerto Rico formed part of
the Spanish empire in the American continent, Puerto Ricans share with
Latin Americans this cultural background. Aranda and Rebollo-Gil (2004)
argue that a reason why Puerto Ricans are viewed this way by US society
at large is that race/ethnicity is a social construct of which skin color is not
used as the only indicator. More specifically applied to Puerto Ricans,
ethnicity, National Origin, culture, language, race and the countrys
position in the global coloniality of power all form an interlocking
system of identification that determines race/ethnicity (Aranda, Gil-

Rebollo 2004). In the case of Puerto Ricans, given that they speak Spanish,
that are not phenotiypically (e.g. Anglo/Scandinavian) white, that practice
the catholic religion over the dominant protestant religion of the US
(Fitzpatrick 1968) and that Puerto Rico occupies a subordinate colonial
position within the World System, they tend to be viewed as part of the
larger Latin American/Hispanic immigrant minority group, as let say
Dominicans or Mexicans, among others.
Now, the political status of Puerto Rico creates other issues.
Because Puerto Ricos territory is subject to the Federal Constitution and
laws, the United States has a special influence over how the governmental
institutions operate, which consequently has its effects over Puerto Rican
society as a whole. An example of this peculiar way of influencing Puerto
Rican government institutions could be seen in the way federal aid is
distributed. For example, in some instances federal grants are offered
contingent upon the adoption of political and economic practices that are
used in the US, like the privatization of state services and resources.
Another way the process of Americanizing Puerto Rico takes (and/or has
taken) place is through the establishment of US manufacturing enterprises
in Puerto Rico. This process was aided by tax incentives provided to
manufacturing companies by section 936 of the US tax code (which at
present time is being phased out and will be all eliminated by 2006). This
allowed the transformation of the Puerto Rican economy to an industrial
economy that produced goods to be consumed in the United States (Baerga
and Thompson 1990). In addition, the establishment of US corporations in
Puerto Rico, I argued, has also help develop a culture of work and a work
ethic similar to the Anglo work culture and ethic prevalent in the United
States. This assumption has not being tested to the best of my knowledge
and could be a subject of future research.

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