This paper employs the capability approach to explore how Latina/Latino migrants in Central Illinois-an area of the Midwest (or Heartland) that lies outside the traditional metropolitan destinations-were coping with the local effects of the global economic crisis of the late 2000s. The crisis affected the capabilities of Latina/Latino migrants to pursue work that provided sufficient income to meet their families' basic needs. Exacerbating the crisis were high prices for food that persisted in the wake of the food price crisis of 2007/08 and further limited purchasing power. Using a case study, we focus on the migrants' capabilities to have control over their environment through employment and entrepreneurship, as well as agency in use of their income (such as sending remittances), which affects the capabilities of affiliation, respect, and emotions. In the 20 in-depth interviews with migrant women and men, we find that most interviewees reported their hours and pay had been cut. Strategies included cutting back on remittances, turning to self-employment, and some new use of support programs. The strategies had different gender dimensions with implications for capabilities that often made them more challenging for male migrants than female migrants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-213
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Capability approach
  • Crisis
  • Migration
  • Remittances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development


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