December 14, 2017

Country at a Crossroads: For Migrants, New Land of Opportunity Is Mexico

Rising wages in China and higher transportation costs have made Mexican manufacturing highly competitive again, with some projections suggesting it is already cheaper than China for many industries serving the American market. Europe is sputtering, pushing workers away. And while Mexico’s economy is far from trouble free, its growth easily outpaced the giants of the hemisphere — the United States, Canada and Brazil — in 2011 and 2012, according to International Monetary Fund data, making the country more attractive to fortune seekers worldwide.

The new arrivals range in class from executives to laborers; Mexican officials said Friday that residency requests had grown by 10 percent since November, when a new law meant to streamline the process took effect. And they are coming from nearly everywhere.

Guillaume Pace saw his native France wilting economically, so with his new degree in finance, he moved to Mexico City.

Lee Hwan-hee made the same move from South Korea for an internship, while Spanish filmmakers, Japanese automotive executives and entrepreneurs from the United States and Latin America arrive practically daily — pursuing dreams, living well and frequently succeeding.

“There is this energy here, this feeling that anything can happen,” said Lesley Téllez, a Californian whose three-year-old business running culinary tours served hundreds of clients here last year. “It’s hard to find that in the U.S.”

The shift with Mexico’s northern neighbor is especially stark. Americans now make up more than three-quarters of Mexico’s roughly one million documented foreigners, up from around two-thirds in 2000, leading to a historic milestone: more Americans have been added to the population of Mexico over the past few years than Mexicans have been added to the population of the United States, according to government data in both nations.

Mexican migration to the United States has reached an equilibrium, with about as many Mexicans moving north from 2005 to 2010 as those returning south. The number of Americans legally living and working in Mexico grew to more than 70,000 in 2012 from 60,000 in 2009, a number that does not include many students and retirees, those on tourist visas or the roughly 350,000 American children who have arrived since 2005 with their Mexican parents.

“Mexico is changing; all the numbers point in that direction,” said Ernesto Rodríguez Chávez, the former director of migration policy at Mexico’s Interior Ministry. He added: “There’s been an opening to the world in every way — culturally, socially and economically.”

But the effect of that opening varies widely. Many economists, demographers and Mexican officials see the growing foreign presence as an indicator that global trends have been breaking Mexico’s way — or as President Enrique Peña Nieto often puts it, “the stars are aligning” — but there are plenty of obstacles threatening to scuttle Mexico’s moment.

Inequality remains a huge problem, and in many Mexican states education is still a mess and criminals rule. Many local companies that could be benefiting from Mexico’s rise also remain isolated from the export economy and its benefits, with credit hard to come by and little confidence that the country’s window of opportunity will stay open for long. Indeed, over the past year, as projections for growth have been trimmed by Mexico’s central bank, it has become increasingly clear to officials and experts that the country cannot expect its new competitiveness to single-handedly move it forward.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/world/americas/for-migrants-new-land-of-opportunity-is-mexico.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Shortcuts: Fears, and Opportunities, On the Road to Retirement

On one hand, I’ve been hearing that life’s “second act” or “encore phase” (“golden years” is somewhat tarnished), is supposed to be a time of giving back to the community, of pursuing one’s passion — whether it be opening a bakery, building water projects in Africa or transforming from couch potato to marathoner.

On the flip side, there are endless stories about those 55 and older who are worried less about hang-gliding than about just hanging on. These are the people who don’t think they’ll ever have enough to retire, who fear the fraying of the twin safety nets of Social Security and Medicare, who have lost their jobs and worry they may never be hired again.

“There’s definitely a longevity paradox,” said Marc Freedman, author of “The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife,” (PublicAffairs, 2011). “The doctor tells you to exercise and eat well, while the editorial pages tell of a long gray wave of greedy geezers who won’t move aside to let younger workers in.”

This year, the first of the Americans born from 1946 to 1964 turn 65. As a 2010 Pew Research Center study of this group put it, “Every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 more will cross that threshold.” By 2030, at least 18 percent of the population of the United States will be 65 or over, and the numbers are much higher in some European and Asian countries.

It is important to remember, Mr. Freedman said, that the concept of leisurely retirement years is a relatively new one, beginning around the 1950s and 1960s.

“Before that, people just worked until they dropped dead,” he said. “As people lived longer, there began an awkward phase that turned into the golden years and became a destination.”

Thus began retirement communities like Leisure World and travel programs like Elderhostel for older people, now renamed Road Scholar. Financial services firms, housing developers and others started marketing the idea of a “new American aristocrat — now leisure wasn’t just for the wealthy but for the middle class and even working class,” said Mr. Freedman, who is also the founder of Civic Ventures, a research organization that looks at “boomers, work and social purpose.”

The trouble is, those post-work years of playing golf and touring the country in a recreational vehicle weren’t supposed to last for 30 years. And just as the notion of golden years “made a virtue out of necessity, we need to do that again,” Mr. Freedman said, by starting a national debate on what this phase of life was going to look and be like.

There are also two other conflicting narratives, said Ellen Goodman, a retired columnist for The Boston Globe who wrote for years about social change and now sits on the board of Civic Ventures.

“It’s that those over 65 should retire and open up channels for young people, and that we should keep working longer so as not to be a drain on Social Security,” Ms. Goodman, 70, said.

Laura L. Carstensen, a professor of psychology at Stanford and founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, agreed.

“There is a current climate that you can’t win for losing: if you work, it’s bad for young people and if you don’t work, it’s bad for young people,” Professor Carstensen said.

She said she was also concerned that the new model of aging — of being vigorous and engaged and doing for others — “denies the reality of aging.”

“If there’s one thing great about getting older, there are certain things that are liberating,” Professor Carstensen said. Do we really want to put more societal pressure on people as they grow older to look and act ever younger, she asked.

One thing we need to do, Mr. Freedman said, is leave behind the notion of heroic reinvention after age 65 and instead focus on much more realistic solutions. And that includes developing better ways to finance the transition.

Mr. Freedman advocates thinking about ways to publicly and privately reallocate resources to create new ways that those over 65 can not only survive but successfully contribute to society without creating generational conflict.

“A lot of smart people are hitting this stage in life and are starting to think and write about it,” he said.

E-mail: shortcuts@nytimes.com

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 3, 2011

An earlier version of this article misstated the title of a book by Marc Freedman. It is  “The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife,” not “The Big Shift: Navigating the New Strategies Beyond Midlife.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1bd2972b310aadc0f3a36980f5e4e93c