Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Fernando Riosmena

Second Advisor

Seth Spielman

Third Advisor

Christina Sue


Mexico’s indigenous population faces discrimination and marginalization, despite increased efforts by the state to recognize the challenges facing these groups. Indigenous Mexicans struggle to navigate the ethnic hierarchies that place them at the bottom of Mexican society, especially when migrating internally to urban areas where they are a smaller proportion of the population. This research focuses on the labor market outcomes (i.e. expected monthly wages and likelihood of labor force participation) of indigenous migrants from Oaxaca to the Mexico City metropolitan area. Using data from the 2010 Mexican census, I use linear and logistic regression models to examine the ways in which the wages and labor force participation rates of indigenous migrants compare to those of native, non-indigenous residents in the destination and to those of indigenous and non-indigenous people in the origin when controlling for educational attainment and occupation. This study builds upon existing work on labor market outcomes of Latin American indigenous populations by placing more focus on migration and using a more nuanced understanding of indigenous identity to untangle and clarify the connection between migration status, indigeneity, and labor market outcomes. Results show the Oaxacan indigenous population in Mexico City is unique among the groups studied as the wage returns for higher educational attainment are often relatively small and insignificant, suggesting these migrants tend to find employment in the same low-wage sectors regardless of educational attainment. The results on wage returns for employment in higher-skilled or higher-status occupations are mixed for the indigenous migrant population. Migrant men in high-skilled blue-collar sectors earn significantly more than their low-skilled counterparts, while the opposite is true for migrant women. Future research is recommended to better understand the relationship between educational attainment and low-wage, low-status occupational insertion for the indigenous migrant population.