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

  • Brian Duncan

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Denver)

  • Stephen Trejo

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Texas at Austin, and CReAM)

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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Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 0901.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:0901
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  12. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," Papers 1999-10, Laval - Laboratoire Econometrie.
  13. Reynolds Farley, 1991. "The new census question about ancestry: What did it tell us?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(3), pages 411-429, August.
  14. 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.
  15. James P. Smith, 2003. "Assimilation across the Latino Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 315-319, May.
  16. Mason, Patrick L., 2004. "Annual income, hourly wages, and identity Among Mexican Americans and other Latinos," MPRA Paper 11326, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
  18. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Long-Run Convergence of Ethnic Skill Differentials: The Children and Grandchildren of the Great Migration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 553-573, July.
  19. Darity, William Jr. & Mason, Patrick L. & Stewart, James B., 2006. "The economics of identity: The origin and persistence of racial identity norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 283-305, July.
  20. 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.
  21. Alberto Bisin & Giorgio Topa & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Religious Intermarriage and Socialization in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 615-664, June.
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  23. William Darity & Darrick Hamilton & Jason Dietrich, 2002. "Passing on blackness: Latinos, race, and earnings in the USA," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(13), pages 847-853.
  24. Zhenchao Qian, 2004. "Options: Racial/Ethnic Identification of Children of Intermarried Couples," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(3), pages 746-766.
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