The Sociological Quarterly
(2006) 397–424 © 2006 Midwest Sociological Society
The Sociological Quarterly ISSN 0038-0253
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Segmente AssmatonZuema Vaez
*Please direct all correspondence to Zulema Valdez, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, 4351TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4351; e-mail: email@example.com
SEGMENTED ASSIMILATION AMONGMEXICANS IN THE SOUTHWEST
Texas A&M University
This article examines segmented assimilation among foreign-born and U.S.-born Mexicans.Using the 2000 census, this article investigates how immigrants’ length of residence in theUnited States and nativity affect the earnings and self-employment outcomes of low- and high-skilled Mexican men and women in the Southwest. Findings reveal that the earnings of low-skilled, foreign-born Mexicans decrease as immigrants reside in the United States longer andare generally lower among the U.S. born than the foreign born. In contrast, the earnings of high-skilled, foreign-born Mexicans increase as immigrants reside in the United States longer and aregenerally higher among U.S.-born Mexicans than foreign-born Mexicans. Moreover, self-employment participation decreases as immigrants reside in the United States longer and is loweramong the U.S. born than the foreign born, regardless of skill. Since self-employment results inlower earnings, a decline in self-employment indicates economic progress. Furthermore, men aregenerally better off than women. Drawing from segmented assimilation theory, ﬁndings supportthe “downward assimilation” hypothesis among low-skilled Mexicans and the “Anglo-conformity”hypothesis among high-skilled Mexicans. Overall, this research provides evidence of intragroupdifferences in segmented assimilation among foreign-born and U.S.-born Mexicans in theSouthwest.
Socioeconomic assimilation refers to the gradual process of incorporation, as immigrantsand their descendants integrate into the United States economy (Myrdal 1944; Park 1950;Warner and Srole 1945; Lieberson 1963; Gordon 1964; Alba 1990; Waters 1990; Gans1992). Classic assimilation theory, speciﬁcally that of Anglo-conformity, predicts a grad-ual convergence to the socioeconomic outcomes of middle-class, non-Hispanic whites(Lieberson 1963:8; Gordon 1964:74; Gans 1992:174; Portes and Zhou 1993:82). Yet, thisupwardly mobile path is not guaranteed. Contemporary research on immigrant adapta-tion observes a mismatch between the assumptions of classic assimilation theory and theempirical reality of newer non-European ethnic and racial groups (Borjas 1990; Portesand Rumbaut 1990; Glazer 1993; Portes and Zhou 1993; Alba and Nee 1997; Zhou 1997;Kasinitz, Mollenkopf, and Waters 2004:394). Rather than a pattern of gradual conver-gence to the white middle class, some ethnic and racial groups proceed in the oppositedirection, toward “permanent poverty and assimilation into the underclass” (Portes andRumbaut 2001:82)—what has been coined “downward assimilation” (Model 1991;Portes and Zhou 1993; Butcher 1994; Fernandez-Kelly and Schaufﬂer 1994; Zhou 1997;