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Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States

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  • Duncan, Brian

    ()
    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • Trejo, Stephen

    ()
    (University of Texas at Austin)

Abstract

Using microdata from the 2000 U.S. Census, we analyze the responses of Mexican Americans to questions that independently elicit their “ethnicity” (or Hispanic origin) and their “ancestry.” We investigate whether different patterns of responses to these questions reflect varying degrees of ethnic attachment. For example, those identified as “Mexican” in both the Hispanic origin and the ancestry questions might have stronger ethnic ties than those identified as Mexican only in the ancestry question. How U.S.-born Mexicans report their ethnicity/ancestry is strongly associated with measures of human capital and labor market performance. In particular, educational attainment, English proficiency, and earnings are especially high for men and women who claim a Mexican ancestry but report their ethnicity as “not Hispanic.” Further, intermarriage and the Mexican identification of children are also strongly related to how U.S.-born Mexican adults report their ethnicity/ancestry, revealing a possible link between the intergenerational transmission of Mexican identification and economic status.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3552.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Labor Economics, 29, 2009, 31-66
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3552

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Keywords: ancestry; intermarriage; ethnicity; Mexican;

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References

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  7. Brian Duncan & Stephen Trejo, 2006. "Ethnic Identification, Intermarriage, and Unmaresured Progress by Mexican Americans," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0602, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  8. Constant, Amelie & Gataullina, Liliya & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2006. "Gender, Ethnic Identity and Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 5983, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Brian Duncan & Stephen Trejo, 2009. "Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0902, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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  16. Trejo, Stephen J, 1997. "Why Do Mexican Americans Earn Low Wages?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1235-68, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Duncan, Brian & Trejo, Stephen, 2011. "Low-Skilled Immigrants and the U.S. Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 5964, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Fischer, Stefanie & Stoddard, Christiana, 2013. "The academic achievement of American Indians," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 135-152.
  3. Pia Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2011. "Trends in poverty and inequality among Hispanics," Working Papers 1109, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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