Erika Arenas

Assistant Professor

Office Hours


Office Location

SSMS 3123


Migration, social stratification based on skin color, and the effect of social programs on socio-economic and demographic outcomes


Ph.D., UC Los Angeles


Professor Arenas studies migration and social stratification. She was trained as social demographer and social stratification researcher, with a strong focus on Latino migrant populations living in the United States. Her research agenda encompasses three main areas: (1) migration, (2) social stratification based on skin color, and (3) the effect of social programs on socio-economic and demographic outcomes.


Professor Arenas’ research has focused on investigating the association between health and migration. Currently, she is studying the role of undocumented status on mental health, a project financed by UC-Mexus.

The last ten years of her career, she has been actively participating in the collection of a unique dataset to study migrant populations: the Mexican Family Life Survey (, which is the first long-term panel study that has successfully tracked and interviewed respondents across national borders. Currently, Prof. Arenas is co-PI and co-Director of the fourth wave of the MxFLS (MxFLS-4).

Social Stratification based on skin color

Professor Arenas is interested in examining how skin color shapes life chances. She has studied how skin color shapes marriage markets using novel data she collected for the Mexican Marital Preference Pilot Project (MxMPP). In MxFLS-4, she is collecting novel skin color data using several instruments (e.g. skin color palettes, and colorimeters) to investigate how skin color interacts with gender, indigenous background, age, class, and geographic location to determine educational, health, and labor market outcomes, and partner choice.

Social Programs and socio-demographic outcomes

Prof. Arenas’ research interests encompass the impact of public policies on socio-economic and demographic factors. Currently, she is investigating the impact of Seguro Popular (a program intended to reduce health disparities in Mexico) on health outcomes. In addition, she is involved in a project that intends to understand long-term impacts of Prospera (before Oportunidades, a program aimed at reducing poverty via conditional cash transfers) on several outcomes.  

Selected Publications:

Arenas, Erika, Susan W. Parker, Luis Rubalcava, Graciela Teruel. 2023. Impact of health insurance on adult mortality in rural areas: Evidence of Seguro Popular in Mexico using panel data, World Development Perspectives, 30, 100501,
Arenas, Erika, Graciela Teruel, and Pablo Gaitán-Rossi. 2022. Time and Gender Measurement Invariance in the Modified Calderon Depression Scale, Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 20, 100.

Arenas, Erika, Jenjira Yahirun, Graciela Teruel, Luis Rubalcava, Pablo-Gaitan-Rossi. 2021. Gender, family separation, and negative emotional well-being among recent Mexican migrants. Journal of Marriage and Family, pag. 1-19,

Saldívar, Emiko, Patricio Solís, Erika Arenas. 2018. “Consideraciones metodólogicas para el conteo de la población afromexicana en el Censo 2020”, Coyuntura Demográfica, 14, 49-56.

Yahirun, Jenjira, and Erika Arenas. 2018. “Offspring Migration and Parent’s Emotional and Psychological Well-being in Mexico, Journal of Marriage and Family, 80(4), 975-991

Arenas, Erika. 2017. “Abuelos at home: Differential impact on children’s education by family structure”, Research on Social Stratification and Mobility, 52, 36-48

Arenas, Erika, Kye, Bongoh, Graciela Teruel, and Luis Rubalcava. 2016. “The impact of education and health heterogeneity on Generational Support Ratios: a cross-national comparison between Mexico and Korea”, Ageing and Society, 1-38

Arenas, Erika, Noreen Goldman, Anne Pebley and Graciela Teruel. 2015. “Return Migration to Mexico: Does Health Matter?”, Demography, 52(6)1853-1868

Arenas Erika, Susan Parker, Luis Rubalcava and Graciela Teruel. 2015. “Evaluación del Programa del Seguro Popular del 2002 al 2005: Impacto en la Utilización de Servicios Médicos, en el Gasto en Salud y en el Mercado Laboral”, El Trimestre Económico, 82(328)807-845

Kye, Bongoh, Erika Arenas, Graciela Teruel and Luis Rubalcava. 2014. “Education and Elderly Health in South Korea: A demographic Approach”, Demographic Research, 30(26)753-794

 Arenas, Erika, Susan Parker, Luis Rubalcava and Graciela Teruel. 2013. “Evaluación del Seguro Popular”, in Uso de una encuesta panel para evaluaciones de impacto: Ensayo metodológico con la ENNVIH 2002-2005, published by Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social, México D.F., CONEVAL 2013


Undergraduate courses:

SOC 108 Research Traditions

SOC 194 Contemporary Immigration

Graduate courses:

SOC 205B Statistics