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

  • Duncan, Brian

    ()

    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • Trejo, Stephen

    ()

    (University of Texas at Austin)

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 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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  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Gender and Assimilation Among Mexican Americans," NBER Working Papers 11512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nekby, Lena & Rödin, Magnus, 2007. "Acculturation Identity and Labor Market Outcomes," Research Papers in Economics 2007:7, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2007. "Measuring Ethnic Identity and Its Impact on Economic Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 3063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher Ruebeck, 2007. "Colourism and African–american wealth: evidence from the nineteenth-century south," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(3), pages 599-620, July.
  6. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1999. "Beyond the Melting Pot : Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," DELTA Working Papers 1999-10, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  7. Mason, Patrick L., 2004. "Annual income, hourly wages, and identity Among Mexican Americans and other Latinos," MPRA Paper 11326, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Borjas, George J, 1993. "The Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 113-35, January.
  9. Amelie Constant & Liliya Gataullina & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2006. "Gender, Ethnic Identity and Work," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 643, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
  11. 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.
  12. Alan Manning & Sanchari Roy, 2007. "Culture Clash or Culture Club? The Identity and Attitudes of Immigrants in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0790, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. 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.
  14. Karl Eschbach & Khalil Supple & C. Snipp, 1998. "Changes in racial identification and the educational attainment of American Indians, 1970–1990," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(1), pages 35-43, February.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. James P. Smith, 2003. "Assimilation across the Latino Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 315-319, May.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
  23. 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.
  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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