Socio-economic mobility among Mexican Americans

Edward E. Telles, University of California, Los Angeles

This paper examines socioeconomic mobility among Mexican Americans. Based on a longitudinal and intergenerational sample of Mexican Americans in Los Angeles and San Antonio, I examine the efficacy of assimilation theories for explaining mobility. I also examine counterhypotheses based on race or skin colour, labour market structure and the influence of continuing immigration. I find that such explanations are at least as important as the generational progression predicted by assimilation theory, suggesting that group based explanations like those of assimilation are overstated. The Mexican origin population is particularly important because it spans the old and new waves of mass immigration to the United States and it has long been the largest immigrant group.

Presented in Session 127: Ethnic minorities