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Pozo uses Fulbright for research on immigration

Jan. 14, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Dr. Susan Pozo, professor of economics at Western Michigan University, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to study the impact of emigrant remittances in South America.

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WMU has state's largest number of Fulbrights

Pozo plans to return in June from the University of Montevideo in Uruguay, where she currently is studying the households and economies that are left behind when individuals migrate to work, study or resettle, sending their earnings back home in an attempt to create more comfortable living conditions for those they have left behind. Pozo says the primary purpose of her research is to learn more about the reasons for migration and the effects of remittances in an attempt to better understand the broader issue of immigration.

"Some individuals migrate to better their economic standing, others to diversify the income streams of the family and still others to reunite with their family," Pozo says. "Some leave home with the intention of permanently resettling, while others migrate on a temporary basis to study, help a relative in need or accumulate funds toward the purchase of a large-ticket item."

Despite the diversity of reasons for leaving home, substantial flows of remittances are common to many regions of the world experiencing out-migration. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report that highlighted Pozo's research among others, remittances make up nearly 30 percent of some developing countries' gross domestic products.

"Immigration has become a hot political issue in recent months but it has been important economically for much longer," Pozo says. "Still, we have only recently come to recognize the extent and growing size of these international money flows."

Pozo and her colleague, Fernando Borraz of the University of Montevideo, have found that there are many obvious benefits to this inward flow of money, including increased access to education, health care and housing. They also have discovered some associated risks and long-term disadvantages, including a cycle of continued poverty.

Remittances may make a receiving country's export sector less competitive, due to a distorted local economy and an outward flow of talent, among other factors. Understanding why this happens and what can be done to reverse the damage is important to Latin America's long-term economic stability as well as that of other regions of the world, such as Asia and Africa, which also receive high remittances.

"I have an even richer background now that I have been living in this economy all these months," Pozo says. "I expect to return to the U.S. with new depth in my teachings and my research."

Pozo, who lived in Venezuela for much of her childhood, joined WMU's Department of Economics as an assistant professor in 1982. She quickly rose to the rank of associate professor and was promoted again to professor in 1994. Pozo, who received a doctoral degree in international trade and finance from Michigan State University, is an expert in the areas of international finance, immigration and macroeconomics.

WMU has the state's largest number of Fulbright Scholars this year, with six out of Michigan's 26 for the 2006-07 academic year. A total of 14 Michigan schools had faculty members awarded Fulbrights, with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University each receiving three awards and the remainder spread out around the state.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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