Rich peasant, poor peasant: Differing fates of urban migrants in Peru

Jorge Gascón*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Despite this, neither the use of cultural resources nor the characteristics of the market can explain the socioeconomic differentiation created in the heart of this migrant population. Most informal micro-businesses continued to be barely viable. The men and women vendors on the streets of Lima whose limited merchandise demonstrates their low level of capitalization are an example. In addition, the successful informal businesses are composed not only of entrepreneurs but also of migrant laborers working in a situation of overexploitation: job insecurity, long work days, no social security, low wages, etc. This article attempts to contribute to the search for an answer to the question why some migrants manage to become prosperous in the informal sector and the rest-the majority-do not. My hypothesis is that this differentiation is not necessarily created in the city through luck or entrepreneurial ability but in most cases has its roots in the place of origin. The migrant takes the socioeconomic status he has in his community to the city, and his fate and access to the aforementioned cultural resources largely depend on this status. As does Paerregaard (1998), I believe that an understanding of the world of the urban migrant requires study of its interdependence with the rural world of origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalLatin American Perspectives
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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