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Ethnic Identification, Intermarriage, and Unmeasured Progress by Mexican Americans

  • Duncan, Brian

    ()

    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • Trejo, Stephen

    ()

    (University of Texas at Austin)

Using Census and CPS data, we show that U.S.-born Mexican Americans who marry non-Mexicans are substantially more educated and English proficient, on average, than are Mexican Americans who marry co-ethnics (whether they be Mexican Americans or Mexican immigrants). In addition, the non-Mexican spouses of intermarried Mexican Americans possess relatively high levels of schooling and English proficiency, compared to the spouses of endogamously married Mexican Americans. The human capital selectivity of Mexican intermarriage generates corresponding differences in the employment and earnings of Mexican Americans and their spouses. Moreover, the children of intermarried Mexican Americans are much less likely to be identified as Mexican than are the children of endogamous Mexican marriages. These forces combine to produce strong negative correlations between the education, English proficiency, employment, and earnings of Mexican-American parents and the chances that their children retain a Mexican ethnicity. Such findings raise the possibility that selective ethnic "attrition" might bias observed measures of intergenerational progress for Mexican Americans.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1629.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: George J. Borjas (ed.), Mexican Immigration to the United States, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, 229-267
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1629
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  1. Gretchen Livingston & Joan R. Kahn, 2002. "An American Dream Unfulfilled: The Limited Mobility of Mexican Americans," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 83(4), pages 1003-1012.
  2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Gender and Assimilation Among Mexican Americans," NBER Working Papers 11512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Vincent Fu, 2001. "Racial intermarriage pairings," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 147-159, May.
  4. Kenneth A. Couch & Thomas A. Dunn, 1995. "Intergenerational Correlations in Labor Market Status: A Comparison of the United States and Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 111, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. James P. Smith, 2003. "Assimilation across the Latino Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 315-319, May.
  6. 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.
  7. Borjas, George J, 1993. "The Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 113-35, January.
  8. Delia Furtado, 2006. "Human Capital and Interethnic Marriage Decisions," Working papers 2006-03, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  9. Joel Perlmann, 2003. "Mexicans Now, Italians Then: Intermarriage Patterns," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_376, Levy Economics Institute.
  10. Karl Eschbach & Khalil Supple & C. Snipp, 1998. "Changes in racial identification and the educational attainment of American Indians, 1970–1990," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 35-43, February.
  11. Zhenchao Qian, 1997. "Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 263-276, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Farley, Reynolds, 1990. "Blacks, Hispanics, and White Ethnic Groups: Are Blacks Uniquely Disadvantaged?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 237-41, May.
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