Examining the Root Causes of Migration at the Local Level

In close partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health, Gallup, the Reform for Resilience Commission’s Americas Hub, and the Partnership for Central America, Fraym published the Strengthening the Roots of Hope: A data-driven, localized approach to investing in inclusive growth in Northern Central America report.

About the Report

In 2021, the White House produced a U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration, which led to the creation of the Partnership for Central America (PCA). In just one year, the PCA has mobilized more than $1.2 billion to expand opportunities, including new jobs, digital skills, and access to formal banking services.The PCA has set forth many goals, but they all contribute to one central objective: Strengthening the sense of “rootedness,” the connection that residents feel to their communities and their countries.

To provide the PCA with a localized perspective, Fraym, Harvard, and Gallup partnered on a novel operational intelligence tool, the Impact Metrics Dashboard. This interactive Dashboard enables a detailed analysis of data at the subnational level in Guatemala and Honduras, and we hope to expand it to cover El Salvador soon.

The insights highlighted throughout the report represent early findings from analytical work, in which the team mined the Dashboard to identify highly vulnerable communities and urgent needs. The report then explains how these insights might be deployed to shape targeted, high-impact strategies for increasing rootedness.
What follows are preview findings and excerpts from the report.

Identifying Vulnerable Communities

Map of Least Cost Technology in Nigeria
Expanding Job Creation

Using the Impact Metrics Dashboard, we identify specific municipalities that are hotspots both for unemployment and high numbers of people who intend to migrate.

The Dashboard flags certain regions as hotspots for low educational attainment and high levels of intent to migrate, such as the Puerto Barrios Municipio on the country’s eastern border.

Robust, sustained economic growth in the Northern Triangle will require the increased participation of women in the labor force.

The perception of rising crime appears to be a more important factor in driving intent to migrate than personal victimization.



Hondurans want to leave their country



El Salvadorans dream of migrating



GDP Decline in El Salvador & Honduras

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Goal: Expand the Impact Metrics Dashboard for Northern Central America

The Impact Metrics Dashboard allows us to surface insights not only about the most vulnerable communities, but also about the best strategies for addressing those vulnerabilities at scale and with the greatest efficiency.
And we’re just getting started. Over the next year, as we secure additional funding support, we aim to expand the Impact Metrics Dashboard by:

Implementing regular polling throughout Northern Central America to obtain detailed outcome, attitudinal, and behavioral data on an ongoing basis. We will apply AI/ML to transform this polling data into community-level insights at the 1km2 level that will directly inform where and how PCA partners and other key stakeholders can maximize their impact.

Creating a rootedness index that includes various factors known to drive migration, which will be available at the regional, national, and subnational levels. This will provide the White House, PCA, and local governments in the Northern Triangle with advance notice of future increases in the likelihood of migration from emerging hotspots.

Designing an impact scorecard that allows public officials, private investors, and civil society leaders to easily assess progress on all core development and performance metrics. This scorecard will be delivered through an easy-to-use business intelligence Dashboard at the national level, the subnational level (department and municipio), and in the largest migration hotspots in each of the three Northern Triangle countries.

Analyzing the cost of failing to address hopelessness in the region, including an increase in high-risk migration, the loss of crucial local talent via “brain drain,” the further destabilization of civic society, and other key issues.

These actions will apply the most cutting-edge data analysis, polling, and visualization techniques to maximize the impact and efficacy of the PCA. As we continue to upgrade its functionality, the Impact Metrics Dashboard will help ensure that the biggest public-private-academic partnership in the history of the United States effectively advances the goals set out in the U.S. Strategy for Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Central America.

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