Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

January 9, 2008

Whitworth Senior and Stanford Colleague Research Guatemalan Emigration

Whitworth University senior Nathan Rodland and a student from Stanford University are conducting a self-directed economic-development research project to determine how globalization is affecting younger generations in the developing world. Rodland and his research partner, Emily Warren, have collaborated with economists at the World Bank and Stanford University, and faculty from the Universidad Rafael de Landivar, in Guatemala City, to research how population migration from Guatemala is affecting the educational attainment of children who remain in the country.

An April 2006 Migration Information Source report states that Guatemala, a country with a population of about 14 million, has had high rates of emigration for more than three decades due to political instability, natural disasters, and a lack of economic opportunity. Guatemala's International Organization for Migration estimates that between 6,000 and 12,000 new Guatemalan migrants arrive in the United States via Mexico each year.

To launch their project, Warren drafted a Spanish-language survey to collect data on migration, remittances, education, household expenditures and family decision making and worked with economists at the World Bank and Stanford to fine-tune the survey. Once in Guatemala, Rodland and Warren partnered with communications and sociology faculty at the Universidad Rafael de Landivar to make the survey culturally relevant and to find interviewers to administer the survey in native Mayan languages.

Rodland, who is majoring in economics, computer science and international business at Whitworth, and Warren, a senior economics major from San Francisco, Calif., spent summer 2007 traveling throughout Guatemala, training 30 Guatemalans to administer the survey. They spent several days in each location training the surveyors, who then spent weeks administering and collecting the surveys. According to Rodland, none of the interviewers spoke English and many were administering the survey in Mayan languages. All told, the survey was administered in nine different indigenous languages.

"Being responsible not only for ourselves, but also for our interviewers, the reputation of our universities and the success of the project in general was both challenging and rewarding," Rodland says. "Because we were researching an issue that is so relevant - many villages we visited had approximately five people per week attempting to cross the U.S. border - we were able to have meaningful conversations with the people. I learned that migration has complex effects on children left behind. While remittances can help lift some families out of poverty and give children access to education, in other households the lure of a better life as a migrant to America can convince teenagers to drop out of school before they've even learned the basics."

This spring, Warren will continue to analyze the final data set collected from 767 survey respondents living in an area spanning 2,500 square miles. She will prepare a paper based on statistically significant data to present as her honors thesis in economics at Stanford and to submit to economic-development journals.

The principal funders of the research project are The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, The Stanford Undergraduate Research Program, and The Stanford Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

In addition to pursuing a triple major at Whitworth, Rodland, a resident of Kirkland, Wash., is an outfielder on the baseball team. After graduating in May, he plans to move to San Francisco or Seattle and is currently pursuing positions at several management-consulting firms. His long-term goals are to earn Juris Doctor and MBA degrees, and to operate his own venture capital firm that invests in less-developed and developing nations, principally China, India and Southwest Africa. 

Warren works part time as a Presidential Fellow with The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, in Menlo Park, Calif.; she will continue to working with the foundation after she graduates from Stanford this spring. Her work involves targeting and strategizing the grants the foundation makes through its special-projects area, advising on internal- effectiveness strategies, and analyzing how the "new philanthropy" can approach and implement the theories surrounding the social return on investment.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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