Money Under the Mattress: An Examination of Mexican Immigrants' Banking Habits in the U.S.
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This paper examines factors that influence the likelihood that a Mexican immigrant will open a bank account in the United States. Using data from the Mexican Migration Project, regression analyses are used to evaluate how personal characteristics of immigrants and U.S. government policies impact this probability. The U.S. policies which are considered include the USA PATRIOT Act, legislation which includes provisions to curb money laundering; and the matrícula consular, an identification document issued by the Mexican government and endorsed by the U.S. Treasury, which is commonly used for opening accounts in the U.S. Analyses focus on states bordering Mexico, particularly California. Estimations show that the PATRIOT Act results in a decrease in the percentage of Mexican immigrants who open accounts, while encouragement of the use of the matrícula consular is associated with a significant increase. The effects of personal characteristics of immigrants on that likelihood are also discussed.