Bad Jobs, Good Jobs, No Jobs?

The Employment Experience of the Mexican American Second Generation

Published in: Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, v. 33, no. 1, Jan. 2007, p. 1-35

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Roger David Waldinger, Nelson Lim, David Cort

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Concern with the prospects and experience of the "new" second generation stands at the top of the immigration research agenda in the United States. In contrast to the past, many immigrant offspring appear to be rapidly heading upward, exemplified by the large number of Chinese, Korean, Indian, and other, Asian-origin students enrolled in the nation's leading universities, some the children of workers, others the descendants of immigrants who moved right into the middle-class. On the other hand, knowledgeable observers tell us that the offspring of today's poorly educated immigrants are likely to experience a very different fate. In their view, post-industrial America is an inhospitable place for low-skilled immigrants and their offspring, as the latter are likely, not to be integrated into the mainstream, but acculturated into ways and lifestyles of their underclass neighbors. We advance an alternative perspective, not captured by these two opposing views: namely, that that the children of recent immigrants will follow the footsteps of offspring of the Italian or Polish labor migrants of the turn of the last century, gaining incorporation into working class America. Using samples of the Current Population Survey (CPS), we evaluate these hypotheses, comparing job holding and job quality patterns among the descendants of immigrants and their native counterparts.

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