Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Evelyn Ibatan Rodriguez


The study of subjective well-being and migration are two fields that have increased in prominence in recent decades. However, in the area where the two fields intersect, significant gaps exist. Meanwhile, the majority of research on migration ignores those who stay, resulting in an unbalanced and incomplete understanding of the phenomenon of migration. Using an ethnographic and life history approach, this study explores the subjective well-being of women residing in the migrant-sending community of Tlachichila. Narratives from semi-structured interviews and participant observation field notes were analyzed thematically and emergent themes were identified. Findings suggest that despite the hardship that underscores the literature on this population, women in Tlachichila express a clear and salient desire to stay. Furthermore, narratives suggest that women in migrant-sending communities use morality to redefine happiness and reconstruct their understandings of home, place, migratory behavior and gendered happiness. This process of reconstruction can be seen as an attempt to restore the dignity and agency that has been stripped away by the dominant narrative which labels those who stay, most commonly young women, as merely “left behind wives.” Findings from this study carry implications for migration policy aimed at slowing emigration out of migrant-sending areas as well as interventions aimed at improving the public opinion of immigrants within sending countries.