“Cross-Border Consumption of Informal and Underground Goods: A Case Study of Alternative Consumerism in South Texas”

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


While some attention has been given to the cross-border production of informal and underground goods along the U.S. Mexico border (Richardson & Pisani, 2012), in this paper we focus upon the consumers who drive such production who have received even less attention. Utilizing a unique (and purposive) data set of 357 consumers from the South Texas borderlands, we explore the determinants of cross-border consumption of twelve select informal and underground goods. The data set, derived from extensive interviews conducted during the summer of 2010 in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, consists of both survey and ethnographic data. We find that nearly two-thirds (64.6%) of borderlands consumers have engaged in, at one time or another, the purchase and consumption of cross-border informal goods. The rate is 44.1% for the consumption of cross-border underground goods. For individual goods, participation rates range from a high of 47.2% for informal cross-border purchase of medicines without a prescription to a low of 4.3% for the underground cross-border transport of steroids. Other cross-border informal or underground goods of interest include: alcohol, medicines, medical and dental services, chemicals (pesticides and Freon), pirated handbags, and exotic animals. From collected demographic and informal facilitation mechanisms, we employed multivariate statistical analyses to uncover the determinants of cross-border informal and underground consumption participation. The results are shared with the readers.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
EventBorder Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Symposium - Edinburg, Texas
Duration: Dec 1 2011Dec 1 2011


ConferenceBorder Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Symposium


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