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Tracking Intergenerational Progress for Immigrant Groups: The Problem of Ethnic Attrition


  • Brian Duncan
  • Stephen J. Trejo


In tracking the later-generation descendants of immigrants, measurement biases can arise from "ethnic attrition" (e.g., US-born individuals who do not self-identify as Mexican despite having ancestors who immigrated from Mexico). We present evidence that such ethnic attrition is sizeable and selective for the third-generation populations of key Hispanic and Asian immigrant groups. In addition, our results suggest that ethnic attrition generates biases that vary across national origin groups in direction as well as magnitude, and that correcting for these biases will raise the socioeconomic standing of the US-born descendants of most Hispanic immigrants relative to their Asian counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2011. "Tracking Intergenerational Progress for Immigrant Groups: The Problem of Ethnic Attrition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 603-608, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:603-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2011. "Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 195-227.
    2. Delia Furtado, 2012. "Human Capital And Interethnic Marriage Decisions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 82-93, January.
    3. repec:eme:rlecpp:rlec.2007.27 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. John Iceland & Gregory Sharp, 2013. "White Residential Segregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Conceptual Issues, Patterns, and Trends from the U.S. Census, 1980 to 2010," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(5), pages 663-686, October.
    2. 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).
    3. Francisca Antman & Brian Duncan, 2015. "Incentives to Identify: Racial Identity in the Age of Affirmative Action," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(3), pages 710-713, July.
    4. Peter McHenry & Melissa McInerney, 2015. "Estimating Hispanic-White Wage Gaps Among Women: The Importance of Controlling for Cost of Living," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 249-273, September.
    5. Osea Giuntella, 2016. "Assimilation and Health: Evidence From Linked Birth Records of Second- and Third-Generation Hispanics," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 1979-2004, December.
    6. Julie Park & Stephanie Nawyn & Megan Benetsky, 2015. "Feminized Intergenerational Mobility Without Assimilation? Post-1965 U.S. Immigrants and the Gender Revolution," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(5), pages 1601-1626, October.
    7. repec:bla:intmig:v:51:y:2017:i:1:p:155-190 is not listed on IDEAS

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