Researchers in the United States and Mexico have variously asserted that return migration from the United States to Mexico increased substantially, remained unchanged, or declined slightly in response to the 2008–2009 U.S. recession and fall 2008 global financial crisis. The present study addresses this debate using microdata from 2005 through 2009 from a large-scale, quarterly Mexican household survey, the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE), after first validating the ENOE against return-migration estimates from a specialist demographic survey, the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). Declines in annual return-migration flows of up to a third between 2007 and 2009 were seen among the predominantly labor-migrant groups of male migrants and all 18- to 40-year-old migrants with less than a college education; and a decline in total return migration was seen in the fourth quarter of 2008 (immediately after the triggering of the global financial crisis) compared with the fourth quarter of 2007.

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