My research lies at the intersection of migration, economic sociology and inequality. Within this general area, I study the mechanisms that enable or constrain mobility and lead to greater or lesser degrees of social and economic inequality.
I received my Ph.D. in Sociology and M.S.E in Operations Research & Financial Engineering both from Princeton University. I hold a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Bosphorus University in Turkey.
I collaborate with scholars in different fields, including economics, demography and computer science. My research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Clark Fund, Milton Fund, Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Key Research Questions
My work speaks to three general, and often overlapping, questions. I typically start from an empirical puzzle and push theory and methods to solve it.
Several communities at Cornell allow me to interact and collaborate with colleagues who share my interests in migration, economic sociology, inequality, population and environmental research.
I believe in open science. I provide the links to my papers as well as the code and description of data used in them.
Please reach out with any questions about the data or the code.
Machine learning is a field at the intersection of statistics and computer science that uses algorithms to extract information and knowledge from data. Its applications increasingly find their way into economics, political science, and sociology. We offer a brief introduction to this vast toolbox and illustrate its current uses in the social sciences, including distilling measures from new data sources, such as text and images; characterizing population heterogeneity; improving causal inference; and offering predictions to aid policy decisions and theory development. We argue that, in addition to serving similar purposes in sociology, machine learning tools can speak to long-standing questions on the limitations of the linear modeling framework, the criteria for evaluating empirical findings, transparency around the context of discovery, and the epistemological core of the discipline.
This article adopts a mixed-methods approach to illustrate how economic, political, and social mechanisms work across time to shape individuals’ migration decisions. First, using large-scale survey data from the Mexican Migration Project, we show that economic, political, and social factors all matter for migration decisions but that social factors come to matter most for migration over time. Second, drawing on 120 in-depth interviews with migrants and their family members in four Mexican communities, we find that communities’ migration histories shape how economic, political, and social factors contribute to migration decisions at different points in time. In communities with limited migration histories, individuals migrate to relieve economic pressures on themselves or other household members. In communities with more established migration histories, information and assistance from current or returned migrants help to overcome potential barriers to making the journey. Finally, in communities with a high incidence of migration, social factors act as independent causes of migration—apart from economic needs. These findings provide a deeper understanding of the processes underlying Mexico-U.S. migration, which is crucial for anticipating future flows and crafting policy responses.
The recent salience of immigration as an issue has led to more restrictive policies toward immigrants in many settings. This special issue brings together scholars from multiple disciplines and presents a collection of articles that investigates the nature of immigration enforcement, examines the actors and institutions involved, and uncovers some of the consequences for immigrants and communities. This introductory article takes stock of the main findings and makes a case for future work to (a) include multiple sites and units of analysis, (b) consider the perspectives of on-the-ground enforcement agents, and (c) integrate the study of immigration enforcement to other subfields within and across disciplines.
Scholars have long noted how migration streams, once initiated, obtain a self-feeding character. Studies have connected this phenomenon, called the cumulative causation of migration, to expanding social networks that link migrants in destination to individuals in origin. While extant research has established a positive association between individuals’ ties to prior migrants and their migration propensities, seldom have researchers interrogated how multiple social mechanisms—as well as exposure to common environmental factors—might account for these interdependencies. This article uses a mixed-methods strategy to identify the social mechanisms underlying the network effects in Mexico–U.S. migration. Three types of social mechanisms are identified, which all lead to network effects: (a) social facilitation, which is at work when network peers such as family or community members provide useful information or help that reduces the costs or increases the benefits of migration; (b) normative influence, which operates when network peers offer social rewards or impose sanctions to encourage or discourage migration; and (c) network externalities, which are at work when prior migrants generate a pool of common resources that increase the value or reduce the costs of migration for potential migrants. The authors first use large-sample survey data from the Mexican Migration Project to establish the presence of network effects and then rely on 138 in-depth interviews with migrants and their family members in Mexico to identify the social mechanisms underlying these network effects. The authors thus provide a deeper understanding of migration as a social process, which they argue is crucial for anticipating and responding to future flows.
Migrant remittances comprise an important capital source for developing countries. Research connects migrants’ remittance behavior to altruism, exchange, insurance, and investment motives or to a desire to maintain options available through origin communities. This study provides an alternative “network” perspective: Remittance behavior may depend on the remitting patterns of those in one’s social ties—(a) to members of the origin household; (b) to members of “sibling” households, where a member of the ego household has a sibling; and (c) to members of the origin village. We use censuses from 51 villages in Nang Rong, where one in four residents migrated to internal destinations in either 1994 or 2000, and about one in two migrants remitted to their origin households. We observe network effects: Migrants’ likelihood of remitting increases with the number of remitters in the household and with the share of remitters in the village, net of village and year fixed effects, and other potential confounders. We link the former pattern to inheritance-seeking behavior in the household, and the latter to shared norms in the village.
This article studies the impact of internal migration and remittance flows on wealth accumulation and distribution in 51 rural villages in Nang Rong, Thailand. Using data from 5,449 households, the study constructs indices of household productive and consumer assets with principal component analysis. The changes in these indices from 1994 to 2000 are modeled as a function of households’ prior migration and remittance behavior with ordinary least squares, matching, and instrumental variable methods. The findings show that rich households lose productive assets with migration, potentially because of a reduction in the labor force available to maintain local economic activities, while poor households gain productive assets. Regardless of wealth status, households do not gain or lose consumer assets with migration or remittances. These results suggest an equalizing effect of migration and remittances on wealth distribution in rural Thailand.
The number of human cadavers available for medical research and training, as well as organ transplantation, is limited. Researchers disagree about how to increase the number of whole-body bequeathals, citing a shortage of donations from the one group perceived as most likely to donate from attitudinal survey data – educated white males over 65. This focus on survey data, however, suffers from two main California whole-body donorslimitations: First, it reveals little about individuals' actual registration or donation behavior. Second, past studies' reliance on average survey measures may have concealed variation within the donor population. To address these shortcomings, we employ cluster analysis on all whole-body donors' data from the Universities of California at Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Two donor groups emerge from the analyses: One is made of slightly younger, educated, married individuals, an overwhelming portion of whom are U.S.-born and have U.S.-born parents, while the second includes mostly older, separated women with some college education, a relatively higher share of whom are foreign-born and have foreign-born parents. Our results demonstrate the presence of additional donor groups within and beyond the group of educated and elderly white males previously assumed to be most likely to donate. More broadly, our results suggest how the intersectional nature of donors' demographics – in particular, gender and migration status – shapes the configuration of the donor pool, signaling new ways to possibly increase donations.
Prior work has modeled individuals’ migration and remittance behavior separately, and reported mixed empirical support for various remittance motivations. This study offers an integrated approach, and considers migration as a mechanism for selection in a censored probit model of remittance behavior. This approach leads to different conclusions about the determinants of remittance behavior in the Thai internal migration setting. To the extent that these determinants capture different remittance motivations, as prior research has presumed, the analysis also provides varying support for these motivations. These results suggest that migration and remittance behavior are interrelated, and it is crucial for an analysis of remittance behavior to control for the selectivity of migration.
To evaluate the distributional impact of remittances in origin communities, prior research studied how migrants’ selectivity by wealth varies with migration prevalence in the community or prior migration experience of the individual. This study considers both patterns; it examines selectivity separately in low- and high-prevalence communities and for first-time and repeat migrants. Based on data from 18,042 household heads in 119 Mexican communities from the Mexican Migration Project, the analyses show that (1) first-time migrants in low-prevalence communities come from poor households, whereas repeat migrants in high-prevalence communities belong to wealthy households; and (2) higher amounts of remittances reach wealthy households. These results suggest that repeat migration and remittances may be mechanisms for wealth accumulation in the study communities. Descriptive analyses associate these mechanisms with increasing wealth disparities between households with and without migrants, especially in high-prevalence communities. The study, similar to prior findings, shows the importance of repeat migration trips, which, given sustained remittances, may amplify the wealth gap between migrants and nonmigrants in migrant-sending communities. The study also qualifies prior findings by differentiating between low- and high-prevalence communities and observing a growing wealth gap only in the latter.
Migrants to the United States are a diverse population. This diversity, identified in various migration theories, is overlooked in empirical applications that describe a typical narrative for an average migrant. Using the Mexican Migration Project data from about 17,000 first‐time migrants from Mexico to the US between 1970 and 2000, this study employs cluster analysis to identify four types of migrants with distinct configurations of characteristics. Each migrant type corresponds to a specific theoretical account and becomes prevalent in a specific period, depending on economic, social, and political conditions in Mexico and the US. Around the period when each migrant type becomes prevalent, a corresponding theory is also developed.
Human cadavers are crucial to numerous aspects of health care, including initial and continuing training of medical doctors and advancement of medical research. Concerns have periodically been raised about the limited number of whole body donations. Little is known, however, about a unique form of donation, namely co-donations or instances when married individuals decide to register at the same time as their spouse as whole body donors. Our study aims to determine the extent of whole body co-donation and individual factors that might influence co-donation.
Students of social inequality have noted the presence of mechanisms militating toward cumulative advantage and increasing inequality. Social scientists have established that individuals’ choices are influenced by those of their network peers in many social domains. We suggest that the ubiquity of network effects and tendencies toward cumulative advantage are related. Inequality is exacerbated when effects of individual differences are multiplied by social networks: when persons must decide whether to adopt beneficial practices; when network externalities, social learning, or normative pressures influence adoption decisions; and when networks are homophilous with respect to individual characteristics that predict such decisions. We review evidence from literatures on network effects on technology, labor markets, education, demography, and health; identify several mechanisms through which networks may generate higher levels of inequality than one would expect based on differences in initial endowments alone; consider cases in which network effects may ameliorate inequality; and describe research priorities.
We describe a common but largely unrecognized mechanism that produces and exacerbates intergroup inequality: the diffusion of valuable practices with positive network externalities through social networks whose members differentially possess characteristics associated with adoption. We examine two cases, the first to explicate the implications of the model, the second to demonstrate its utility in analyzing empirical data. In the first, the diffusion of Internet use, network effects increase the utility of adoption to friends and relatives of prior adopters. An agent-based model demonstrates positive, monotonic relationships, given externalities, between homophily bias and intergroup inequality in equilibrium adoption rates. In the second, rural/urban migration in Thailand, network effects reduce risk to persons whose networks include prior migrants. Using longitudinal individual-level migration data, we find that network homophily interacts with network externalities to induce inequality in migration rates among otherwise similar villages.
This paper studies how increasing migration changes the character of migrant streams in sending communities. Cumulative causation theory posits that past migration patterns determine future flows, as prior migrants provide resources, influence, or normative pressures that make individuals more likely to migrate. The theory implies exponentially increasing migration flows that are decreasingly selective. Recent research identifies heterogeneity in the cumulative patterns and selectivity of migration in communities. We propose that this heterogeneity may be explained by individuals’ differential access to previously accumulated migration experience. Multi-level, longitudinal data from 22 rural Thai communities allow us to measure the distribution of past experience as a proxy for its accessibility to community members. We find that migration becomes a less-selective process as migration experience accumulates, and migrants become increasingly diverse in socio-demographic characteristics. Yet, selectivity within migrant streams persists if migration experience is not uniformly distributed among, and hence not equally accessible to, all community members. The results confirm that the accumulation and distribution of prior migrants’ experiences distinctly shape future migration flows, and may lead to diverging cumulative patterns in communities over time.
This article investigates how migrant social capital differentially influences individuals’ migration and cumulatively generates divergent outcomes for communities. To combine the fragmented findings in the literature, the article proposes a framework that decomposes migrant social capital into resources (information about or assistance with migration), sources (prior migrants), and recipients (potential migrants). Analysis of multilevel and longitudinal data from 22 rural villages in Thailand shows that the probability of internal migration increases with the available resources, yet the magnitude of increase depends on recipients’ characteristics and the strength of their ties to sources. Specifically, individuals become more likely to migrate if migrant social capital resources are greater and more accessible. The diversity of resources by occupation increases the likelihood of migration, while diversity by destination inhibits it. Resources from weakly tied sources, such as village members, have a higher effect on migration than resources from strongly tied sources in the household. Finally, the importance of resources for migration declines with recipients’ own migration experience. These findings challenge the mainstream account of migrant social capital as a uniform resource that generates similar migration outcomes for different groups of individuals or in different settings. In Nang Rong villages, depending on the configuration of resources, sources, and recipients, migrant social capital leads to differential migration outcomes for individuals and divergent cumulative migration patterns in communities.
A review of the sociological research about gender and migration shows the substantial ways in which gender fundamentally organizes the social relations and structures influencing the causes and consequences of migration. Yet, although a significant sociological research has emerged on gender and migration in the last three decades, studies are not evenly distributed across the discipline. In this article, we map the recent intellectual history of gender and migration in the field of sociology and then systematically assess the extent to which studies on engendering migration have appeared in four widely read journals of sociology (American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Demography, and Social Forces). We follow with a discussion of these studies, and in our conclusions, we consider how future gender and migration scholarship in sociology might evolve more equitably.
Employing longitudinal data from Thailand to replicate studies of cumulative causation, we extend current knowledge by measuring frequency of trips, duration of time away, level of network aggregation (village or household), and sex composition of migrant networks to estimate a model of prospective migration among men and women in Thailand. We find that trips and duration of time away have distinct influences upon migration; that household level migrant networks are more influential than village level migrant networks; that female migrant networks and male migrant networks have different influences upon migration outcomes; and, that migrant social capital influences men and women's migration differently. Our elaboration provides significant quantitative evidence as to how gender and family variously imbue migration dynamics.
“On the Move offers a creative and entirely original analysis to demonstrate convincingly why individuals have migrated from Mexico to the United States at different times for different reasons. Filiz Garip teaches us how seemingly contradictory propositions are often, in fact, quite complementary. Few people in the field today can match the methodological sophistication and substantive knowledge on display in this book.”
Douglas Massey, Princeton University
I’m honored to have received the following recognition for this book.
2019 ENMISA Distinguished Book Award, Honorable Mention
Ethnicity, Nationalism & Migration Studies (ENMISA) Section, International Studies Association
2018 Mirra Komarovsky Book Award
Eastern Sociological Society
2017 Otis Dudley Duncan Award
Section on Population, American Sociological Association
2017 Best Book Award, Co-Winner
Migration and Citizenship Section, American Political Science Association
On the Move: Changing Mechanisms
of Mexico-U.S. Migration
Why do Mexicans migrate to the United States? Is there a typical Mexican migrant? Beginning in the 1970s, survey data indicated that the average migrant was a young, unmarried man who was poor, undereducated, and in search of better employment opportunities. This is the general view that most Americans still hold of immigrants from Mexico. On the Move argues that not only does this view of Mexican migrants reinforce the stereotype of their undesirability, but it also fails to capture the true diversity of migrants from Mexico and their evolving migration patterns over time.
Using survey data from over 145,000 Mexicans and in-depth interviews with nearly 140 Mexicans, Filiz Garip reveals a more accurate picture of Mexico-U.S migration. In the last fifty years there have been four primary waves: a male-dominated migration from rural areas in the 1960s and ’70s, a second migration of young men from socioeconomically more well-off families during the 1980s, a migration of women joining spouses already in the United States in the late 1980s and ’90s, and a generation of more educated, urban migrants in the late 1990s and early 2000s. For each of these four stages, Garip examines the changing variety of reasons for why people migrate and migrants’ perceptions of their opportunities in Mexico and the United States.
Looking at Mexico-U.S. migration during the last half century, On the Move uncovers the vast mechanisms underlying the flow of people moving between nations.
I have presented my research in seminars and conferences across the country. The audiences in these presentations get a big credit for improving the work.
Networks, Diffusion and Inequality
with Flavien Ganter and Linda Zhao at seminars at Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers, Penn State, University of North Carolina, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Network Effects on Behavior: How Do Mechanisms Matter?
with Paul DiMaggio at seminars at McGill, Harvard, University of California-Berkeley
On the Move: Changing Mechanisms of Mexico-U.S. Migration
at seminars at Penn State, UNAM, University of Cologne, Harvard, Yale, Stockholm University, Oxford, UCLA.
Do Migrant Remittances Lead to Inequality?
at seminars University of California, Harvard-MIT Workshop, University of California, Berkeley
How Do Network Externalities Lead to Intergroup Inequality?
with Paul DiMaggio at seminars at Harvard, Upenn-Wharton, Harvard-MIT Workshop, Princeton
Social Capital and Migration: How Do Similar Resources Lead to Divergent Outcomes?
at seminars at Princeton, Northwestern, New York University, Yale, University of Oregon, University of Minnesota, Harvard. (PhD job market paper)
Commencement Keynote Address
(in Turkish) at Bogazici University, Istanbul in 2011
Filiz Garip and Bruce Western. 2011. “Model Comparison and Simulation for Hierarchical Models: Analyzing Rural-Urban Migration in Thailand.”
In Handbook of MCMC, Edited by Galin Jones, Steve Brooks, Xiao-Li Meng, and Andrew Gelman. CRC Press.
Filiz Garip and Asad L. Asad. 2015. “Migrant Networks.”
Forthcoming chapter in the Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences edited by Bob Scott and Stephen Kosslyn. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.
Filiz Garip. 2011. “Remittances.”
Entry in Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology Online, edited by George Ritzer. Entry in the Encyclopedia of Globalization, edited by George Ritzer.