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

Author

Listed:
  • Brian Duncan

    () (Department of Economics, University of Colorado at Denver)

  • Stephen Trejo

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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Duncan & Stephen Trejo, 2009. "Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0901, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:0901
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fischer, Stefanie & Stoddard, Christiana, 2013. "The academic achievement of American Indians," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 135-152.
    2. Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2017. "The Complexity of Immigrant Generations: Implications for Assessing the Socioeconomic Integration of Hispanics and Asians," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 70(5), pages 1146-1175, October.
    3. 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).
    4. 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.
    5. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2011. "Trends in poverty and inequality among Hispanics," Working Papers 1109, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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