Monica Spohn http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3599-9948


This single instrumental case study was designed to learn about emigrants’ reasons for emigrating, situated within the challenges and available opportunities in their home country of Guatemala. Eight emigrants (two women and six men) were interviewed to better understand their personal experiences and to examine the role of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) investments, Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and Guatemala’s domestic conditions and development in participants’ decisions to emigrate to the U.S. The study was guided by the following central questions: (1) How do emigrants explain their reasons for leaving? (2) What motivates emigration in Guatemala’s domestic conditions? (3) And how are these reasons related to U.S. policies, if at all? Data were drawn from multiple sources. The literature on Guatemala’s history and current USAID investments and impacts provides an understanding of the present context in Guatemala for emigration, and interviews with emigrants in the U.S. and Guatemala provide data on personal experiences with emigration. Primary findings were that significant economic hardship and lack of opportunity motivated emigrants’ decisions to go to the U.S. All participants, except for one, had received no development aid, and for the one who had received aid, it did not factor into his decision to emigrate. Half of the participants indicated that they would not have emigrated if development programs had offered educational opportunities and jobs.



USAID policies, motives for emigrating, Guatemalan emigrants

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Cómo citar
Spohn, M. (2018). Emigrants’ Stories of Foreign Aid and their Reasons for Emigration: Guatemalans on the Move. Universitas Psychologica, 16(5), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.11144/Laveriana.upsy16-5.esfa
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