Assimilating into Inequality: Mexican-American Intergenerational Mobility

Mariana Campos Horta, Princeton University

For the most socioeconomically disadvantaged immigrant groups, social integration and eventual assimilation implies intergenerational economic mobility. Mexicans are the largest U.S. immigrant group and also one of the most economically disadvantaged. Further, Mexicans’ intergenerational progress towards economic assimilation has been called into question by the observation that Americans of Mexican ancestry have not achieved economic parity with non-Hispanic whites by the third and later generations. This paper uses the 1997 Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate levels of intergenerational mobility in earnings and education among Mexican-Americans and compares their intergenerational gains to those of individuals with similar family endowments. This analysis clarifies if Mexican-Americans’ intergenerational mobility is higher or lower than one might expect, given their initial endowments. Further, we seek to identify potential determinants of Mexican-American mobility by documenting associations between their earnings growth and educational attainment and non-economic family characteristics as well as critical life-course events.

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Presented in Session 173: Socioeconomic Dimensions of Assimilation