Chile: El Nuevo Orden Migratorio (1990 – 2010) — Una Perspectiva Teórica
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The Republic of Chile, since the return of stable democracy in 1990, and sustained economic growth since the late 1980s, has seen its migration profile shift from a net expeller of emigrants to a net attractor of immigrants. Chile, therefore, represents the only Latin American country experiencing ‘migration transition,’ a phenomenon first observed in Northern Europe in the 1970s and Southern Europe in the 1980s. This paper applies five of the most actualized migration theories at the global, regional and local levels, to the statistical data available in order to shed light on the reasons for this shift and the implications they hold for the future. The first of these theories, the world-systems theory, proves useful in explaining how the economic, social and political development of Chile has contributed and will continue to contribute to increased immigration. Next, the neoclassical and new economic theories of immigration are able to explain how economic gaps between Chile and its neighbors have produced the sharp increase in immigration observed over the past twenty years. However, these theories are incapable of explaining the continued increases in immigration despite the narrowing economic gaps. At the local level, the fourth theory to be discussed is the theory of segmented labor market and describes the emergence and persistence of immigrant dominated sectors of the labor market. Finally, the theory of cumulative causation is apt at explaining historic immigration patterns, but has the least predictive value. To conclude, the migration theories included in this paper appear capable of describing the increase of immigration to Chile in structural terms and predict a continuation of the trend.