This paper surveys that role that hometown associations are playing in transnational development using evidence from Mexico. The authors develop four criteria—ownership, correspondence, sustainability, and replicability to study the role of hometown associations in development and apply these criteria to their field research on Mexican HTA projects operating in rural communities within the municipality of Jerez, Zacatecas. The authors focus on Zacatecas because it is the Mexican state with the highest levels of migration and hometown association activity. The formation in the United States of several umbrella federations representing Zacatecan HTAs has facilitated a strong collaboration with the Mexican government through matching-grant programs to improve hometowns. However, the authors conclude that the influence of hometown associations in Zacatecas may be limited. To exert a greater positive effect, HTAs may require improved contact with community stakeholders in order to learn about development priorities.
This paper appears in New Patterns for Mexico: Observations on Remittances, Philanthropic Giving, and Equitable Development, edited by B. J. Merz. Cambridge, MA: Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University.