International migration, work, and cultural values: A mixed-method exploration among Latino adolescents in U.S. agriculture

Fiorella L. Carlos Chavez, Melinda A. Gonzales-Backen, Alberto M. Perez Rueda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this research is to understand the factors contributing to Latino adolescents' migration and entrance into U.S. agriculture. Background: Adolescent Latino migrants pursuit of work in the United States could be considered a family strategy to generate income. However, little is known regarding the degree to which the decision to migrate for work depends on family financial need. Method: In Study 1, a transcendental-phenomenological approach explored views on migration and work choice among 20 (Mage = 17.75 years) adolescent Guatemalan and Mexican migrants in the southeastern United States. Based on Study 1 findings and in a separate sample (N = 36; Mage = 17.81 years), Study 2 examined migration decisions, farmwork, and their associations with cultural values, frequency of remittances, and family's financial dependency. Results: Study 1 highlighted four major themes: “It was the best thing I could do,” “It was my decision,” “Farmwork just made sense,” and “This is just temporary.” Study 2 showed significant relationships between the decision to migrate to the United States and the decision to work in U.S. agriculture with Latino and U.S. mainstream values. Conclusion: Adolescent Guatemalan and Mexican migrant farmworkers endorsed a bicultural orientation wherein temporary U.S. agricultural work contributed to family well-being and getting ahead in life. Implications: Adolescents' international migration for work is a complex reality wherein family and individual cultural values come together for family survival and prosperity. Future research should consider family interdependence among Latino parents and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-351
Number of pages27
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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