Kimberly Higuera

B.A. in Sociology (with honors), minors in Child Research Policy and Latinx Studies in the Global South, Duke University, 2014
M.P.P., Stanford University, Expected 2023
Graduation Year
Kimberly Higuera
Dissertation Title
Migrating Money: The Social Status Repercussions of US-Mexico Remittances
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

I am sociologist who studies the social policies and contexts help or hinder immigrant inclusion, wellbeing and mobility. Throughout my time at Stanford, my work has been funded by the King Center for Global Development, Sociology Research Opportunity Fund, Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) program, Morris B. and Edna Zale Foundation, Immigration Policy Lab, and Haas Center for Public Service. Currently, I am a Diversifying Academia and Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellow. 

I primarily use interview methods while also drawing on survey methods in order to investigate ideas and relationships that emerge from my interview work. Thus far, my work has clustered around the study of immigrants’ health and wellbeing, family dynamics, and the social status ramifications of economic processes, like monetary remittances.

My dissertation “Migrating Money: The Social Status Repercussions of US-Mexico Remittances” examines the relationship between remittances and social status through the case of the US-Mexico remittance corridor, one of the world’s most consistent and most bountiful. Based on semi-structured interviews and original surveys collected in both the US and Mexico, findings show that status inequality varies along two main characteristics. First, the gender of the remitter and receiver are both very salient at every step of the transaction. Immigrant women served as remittance flashpoint actors—fielding requests for remittance money, coordinating remittance transfers, holding the specialized knowledge regarding remittance services—despite experiencing widespread financial abuse, lacking access and control over household income. In this way, female remitters were highly regarded abroad but were systematically disadvantaged at home. Second, the social status payoff of remitting seemed to vary by the receiver’s age. In accordance with reciprocidad diferida (deferred reciprocity), a norm common in countries that lack a stable social safety net that calls for adult children to reciprocate the caretaking they received as children by caring for their elderly parents, remitting to children and the elderly seemed to have status and relational payoffs. While, remitting to adults in their prime earner years seemed to have status and relational costs for both the senders and receivers with other members of the family regarding this type of remittance relationship as illegitimate.


Latest Publications

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Higuera, Kimberly and Tomás R. Jiménez. 2023. “Mechanism Mapping: A Qualitative Study of how different forms of Instability Mediate the Relationship between Legal Status and Immigrant Mental Well-being.” Social Science & Medicine. 329.


Office Hours

Office Hours

If you would like to get in touch please send me an e-mail or schedule an appointment on my calendly page.

Research Interests

Field of Interest
International Migration
Race, Gender, and Class
Health and Wellbeing
Economic Sociology