Analyses of migrants’ economic circumstances typically use the native-born in the destination as a comparison group. We use the 1990 Census Public Use Microdata Samples for the United States and Puerto Rico to demonstrate the benefits of a comparative approach that includes data from both the origin and the destination. Specifically, the primary objective is to determine how and why the risk of child poverty is associated with migration from Puerto Rico to the United States. The results show that migration reduces the risk of child poverty, partly because better jobs are available on the mainland. Employment, human capital, family structure, and public assistance cannot completely explain observed differences. The results also show that the economic benefits of migration continue for the native-born on the mainland and that return migration to Puerto Rico is associated with impoverishment.

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