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Three Studies on the Socioeconomic Attainment of U.S. Immigrants and Their Descendants
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Immigrant incorporation into U.S. society has been an important topic and has attracted the academic attention of U.S. social scientists for decades. The current wave of immigrants differs from the earlier waves of European immigrants in that recent immigrants are from more diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. The socioeconomic stratification of racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. makes incorporation and assimilation of immigrants more complex. This dissertation project investigates educational and wage attainments of Americans from immigrant families, as these factors are important measures of immigration assimilation. The dissertation is divided into three separate articles. The first article (Chapter 2) uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to show that children of immigrants from black, Hispanic, and Asian backgrounds have higher educational levels compared to 3+ generation non-Hispanic white Americans. This educational advantage is most evident at the “some college” level for second generation blacks and Hispanics, and at the “college” level for second generation Asians. Using the restricted-access data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the second article (Chapter 3) indicates that intergenerational educational mobility is higher if 3+ generation Hispanic men reside in areas with a larger Hispanic population, and if 2nd generation Hispanic men reside in areas with a larger college-educated population, during their adolescent years. The third study (Chapter 4) uses data from the 2010 National Survey of College Graduates to indicate that native-born and foreign-born Hispanic women who have at least a college degree have reached approximate wage parity with comparable native-born non-Hispanic white women. By contrast, native-born Hispanic men face a 10% wage penalty relative to comparable native-born non-Hispanic white men. In addition, foreign-born Hispanic men who immigrated as adults and obtained their college degree outside of the U.S. face larger wage penalties that are augmented by a lack of citizenship. Taken together, the findings from these three studies illustrate the importance of parental human capital, ethnic capital, and immigration generation in determining the ease of assimilation of immigrants and their children, and that these effects differ depending on a person’s racial/ethnic background.
Goodman, Xuanren Wang (2018). Three Studies on the Socioeconomic Attainment of U.S. Immigrants and Their Descendants. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from