New Destination 'Contexts of Reception': Coethnic Concentration and the Earnings of Mexican Immigrants

James D. Bachmeier, University of California, Irvine

This paper studies the recent dispersion of low-skilled Mexican immigrant workers away from traditional areas of settlement to new destinations. Theoretical focus is placed on the role played by low-skilled immigrant social networks in facilitating economic incorporation. Using data from the 5% sample of the 2000 Census IPUMS, I examine the effect of coethnic concentration in local labor markets on the earnings of individual Mexican immigrants, and test whether the effects of concentration vary by destination type. I find a strong and statistically significant curvilinear relationship (inverted U-shape) between coethnic concentration and earnings, but only for immigrants in traditional areas of settlement. In conclusion, I highlight the empirical importance of characteristics of the coethnic community for understanding the economic outcomes of Mexican immigrants, and discuss the implications of the dispersion for Mexicans’ economic incorporation more generally.

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Presented in Session 69: Migration and Urbanization Processes