Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Social networks, Welfare recipients -- United States, Social capital (Sociology), Mexicans -- United States, Immigrants -- United States


In this thesis, I examine the relationship between social networks among Mexican migrants and usage of welfare benefits. For this research, I use the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) dataset and logistic regression to assess whether social capital plays a significant role in connecting individuals to information and resources that affect their access to public systems of social protection, including welfare benefits. Recent welfare reform legislation has made it increasingly difficult for noncitizens to access the welfare state. Following the work of Massey and Aguilera (2003), I have conceptualized social capital as respondents' connection to their U.S. community and their ties to family and friends with current and past migration experiences to the United State. I show that Mexican migrants with ties to their U.S. community and family members and friends with U.S. migration experience are more likely to use the welfare state than those without social ties. Moreover, I find that undocumented migrants increase their likelihood of obtaining welfare benefits when they have a close family member living in the United States. In addition, findings indicate that U.S. migration experience, English language ability, and documentation status are important factors in moderating the relationship between social capital and the use of the welfare state. Furthermore, I find a difference in the way the respondents may have conceptualize the meaning of welfare benefits.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Xavier Escandell, Chair


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Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 118 leaves : illustrations ; 28 cm)



File Format


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Sociology Commons