Mao-Mei Liu

Research Faculty in the Department of Demography

at the University of California, Berkeley.


Email: Mao-Mei_Liu at



Research Interests: International migration, Health, Family, Gender, Social demography,

Social networks, Life course.


I seek to understand the causes and consequences of international migration and the influence of families over the life cycle. Situated in the broad areas of migration and social demography, my research is organized into four areas.

  • One area of research investigates the social determinants of migration: how personal relationships and contexts influence long-distance, international migration. Several papers examine how characteristics of migrant networks – the role of weak ties, for example – and migrant institutions shape international migration and legal statuses.

  • A second area examines health and migration. A paper examines the role of families in adolescent health, unearthing the role of fathers and mothers and extended networks. Others examine how migrant status is associated with health and well-being for internal and international migrants.

  • A third area of research studies families and migration in comparative multi-country contexts. Several papers investigate how the timing, geography and likelihood of migration are related to family structures and sibling migrations for Mexican and Senegalese international migrants.

  • My new project explores how adverse events and migrations relate over the life course and across generations.

My research has been published in Demography, Journal of Marriage and Family, Demographic Research and other venues, and funded by NIH, the European Commission. Before UC Berkeley, I was NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University’s Population Studies and Training Center. I received my PhD in Political and Social Sciences (Social Demography) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in 2014. Since 2007, I have collaborated with researchers in Africa and Europe in the major effort to collect and analyze social demographic information about migration between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe (MAFE - the Migration between Africa and Europe - project).


I am passionate about mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in quantitative social science research, especially those from underrepresented groups: e.g. first-gen, transfer, black, Latinx, Native, Pacific Islander, undocumented, survivors (family violence, foster care, incarceration, etc.)


Representative Publications:


Liu, Mao-Mei. (2013). Migrant Networks and International Migration: Testing Weak Ties. Demography 50:1243–1277


Liu, Mao-Mei, Mathew J. Creighton, Fernando Riosmena, Pau Baizán. (2016) Prospects for the Comparative Study of International Migration using quasi-longitudinal and longitudinal micro-data. Demographic Research 35: 745-782


Liu, Mao-Mei, Fernando Riosmena and Mathew J. Creighton. (2018) Sibling position, gender and family networks in Mexican and Senegalese Migration. Population, Space and Place 24: e2161


Lindstrom, David P., Mao-Mei Liu and Challi Jira. (2019) Gender, Parents & Family networks in Adolescent Health-Seeking Behavior in Ethiopia. Journal of Marriage and Family


Riosmena, Fernando and Mao-Mei Liu. (2019) Who goes next? The Gendered Expansion of Mexican and Senegalese Migrant Sibling Networks in Space and Time. ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 684(1): 146-164


Liu, Mao-Mei. [under review] Daring to Migrate: Legal Status, Networks, and Senegalese Migration to Europe.


Liu, Mao-Mei and David P. Lindstrom. [under review] Enduring Family Migration Networks across the Life Course: the case of Senegal.


Liu, Mao-Mei and Michael J. White. [under review] Migrant Integration in Urban South Africa.

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