While acknowledging that there are greater employment opportunities for Latin American women in cities than in the countryside, social science theorists have continued to argue that urban migration has unequivocally hurt women's status. However, the effects of migration are more complex than these theorists presume. For example, effects can vary depending on women's financial condition and social class. Brazilian women in the lowest socioeconomic class have relatively greater job opportunities and job security in cities than do men of the same class, although there is no compelling evidence that for these women the move to the city is a move out of poverty. Thus, these women may improve their status in relation to men but at the same time may experience no improvement in their economic standing.

In addition, working outside the home, which is more common in urban than in rural areas, helps women in the lowest socioeconomic class make contacts to extend exchange networks—the flow of gifts, loans, or child care from those who currently have access to resources to those who do not. Moreover, poor women working in urban areas actively seek to cultivate long-term employer-employee relations. When an emergency arises that requires greater resources than an exchange network can provide, these women often appeal for and receive aid from their wealthy employers. However, the structure of many poor women's work - often a labor force of one in an employer's home - makes it difficult for them to organize to improve their economic conditions in general.

Not surprisingly, then, Latin American women in the lowest socioeconomic class differ in their opinions about the effects of urban migration on their lives. Some find urban living, with access to electricity and running water, an improvement and would never return to the countryside. Others, disliking the overcrowding and crime, would return to the countryside if there were work opportunities for them there. Thus, urban life has had both negative and positive impacts on women's lives. In general, urban migration has not provided economic prosperity or upward mobility for women in the lowest socio-economic class, despite their intelligent and energetic utilization of the resources available to them.


In the first paragraph, the author refers to the experiences of Brazilian women most probably in order to


support an earlier assertion made by social science theorists about the effects of urban migration

provide an example of one area in which urban migration has failed to improve Latin American women's lives

substantiate the claim that the effects of urban migration cannot be easily characterized

illustrate the effect that urban migration has had on the economic status of Latin American women

compare the effect that urban migration has had on the economic status of Latin American women with its effect on the economic status of Latin American men

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