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Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality

Edited by David Card and Steven Raphael

Publication Year: 2013

The rapid rise in the proportion of foreign-born residents in the United States since the mid-1960s is one of the most important demographic events of the past fifty years. The increase in immigration, especially among the less-skilled and less-educated, has prompted fears that the newcomers may have depressed the wages and employment of the native-born, burdened state and local budgets, and slowed the U.S. economy as a whole. Would the poverty rate be lower in the absence of immigration? How does the undocumented status of an increasing segment of the foreign-born population impact wages in the United States? In Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality, noted labor economists David Card and Steven Raphael and an interdisciplinary team of scholars provide a comprehensive assessment of the costs and benefits of the latest era of immigration to the United States

Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality rigorously explores shifts in population trends, labor market competition, and socioeconomic segregation to investigate how the recent rise in immigration affects economic disadvantage in the United States. Giovanni Peri analyzes the changing skill composition of immigrants to the United States over the past two decades to assess their impact on the labor market outcomes of native-born workers. Despite concerns over labor market competition, he shows that the overall effect has been benign for most native groups. Moreover, immigration appears to have had negligible impacts on native poverty rates. Ethan Lewis examines whether differences in English proficiency explain this lack of competition between immigrant and native-born workers. He finds that parallel Spanish-speaking labor markets emerge in areas where Spanish speakers are sufficiently numerous, thereby limiting the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born residents. While the increase in the number of immigrants may not necessarily hurt the job prospects of native-born workers, low-skilled migration appears to suppress the wages of immigrants themselves. Michael Stoll shows that linguistic isolation and residential crowding in specific metropolitan areas has contributed to high poverty rates among immigrants. Have these economic disadvantages among low-skilled immigrants increased their dependence on the U.S. social safety net? Marianne Bitler and Hilary Hoynes analyze the consequences of welfare reform, which limited eligibility for major cash assistance programs. Their analysis documents sizable declines in program participation for foreign-born families since the 1990s and suggests that the safety net has become less effective in lowering child poverty among immigrant households.

As the debate over immigration reform reemerges on the national agenda, Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality provides a timely and authoritative review of the immigrant experience in the United States. With its wealth of data and intriguing hypotheses, the volume is an essential addition to the field of immigration studies.

A Volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation


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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

Tables and Figures

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pp. vii-xii

About the Authors

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Chapter 1. Introduction

David Card, Steven Raphael

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pp. 1-26

The rapid rise in the proportion of foreign-born residents in the United States since the mid-1960s is one of the most important demographic events of the past fifty years. As a consequence of this immigrant surge the country has become more diverse linguistically, culturally, socioeconomically, and perhaps politically. ...

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Part I. Composition, Competition, and the Geography of Immigrant Poverty

The first section of this volume is devoted to understanding the economic forces that link immigration to native poverty and that determine poverty rates within immigrant communities. The analysis in chapter 2 empirically assesses the role of immigrant-native competition in the labor market in explaining poverty rates among the native born. ...

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Chapter 2. Immigration, Native Poverty, and the Labor Market

Giovanni Peri

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pp. 29-59

This chapter analyzes the effect of immigration on the proportion of American families falling below the poverty line, through the labor market effect that immigrants may have on native workers. Immigrants are a heterogeneous group of workers with different skills. Some compete with specific groups of native workers and complement other groups. ...

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Chapter 3. Immigrant-Native Substitutability and the Role of Language

Ethan Lewis

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pp. 60-97

Studies have found that the massive flow of immigrants into the United States in the past few decades has had little negative impact on the average wages of native-born workers (reviews include Borjas 1994; Friedberg and Hunt 1995; Ottaviano and Peri 2012). However, many of these same studies tend to find that the new arrivals substantially depressed the wages of previous immigrant arrivals (Card 2001; Ottaviano and Peri 2012).1 ...

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Chapter 4. Immigration, Segregation, and Poverty

Michael A. Stoll

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pp. 98-134

Immigration, especially from Latin America and Asia, has changed and continues to change the demographic landscape in the United States. This chapter is concerned with factors that influence immigrant segregation as well as whether and how immigration affects a host of concerns including racial segregation, immigrant poverty, and English-language proficiency. ...

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Chapter 5. “New Destinations” and Immigrant Poverty

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, Matthew Townley

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pp. 135-166

The 1990s and 2000s saw the spatial diversification of immigration to new destination states away from the Southwest, West, and Northeast to the Plains, the South, and East. Some states recorded a doubling and tripling of populations; some counties grew at even higher rates (for example, Li 2009; Massey 2008; Light 2006; Zúñiga and Hernández-León 2006). ...

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Part II. Intergenerational Mobility Within Immigrant Communities

The effect of immigration on U.S. poverty rates may extend well into the future through the offspring of recent immigrants. Of particular relevance is the degree to which these children experience socioeconomic mobility through educational attainment and occupational choices and outcomes. The three chapters in this section are devoted to understanding this process. ...

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Chapter 6. Intergenerational Mobility

Renee Reichl Luthra, Roger Waldinger

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pp. 169-205

Immigration has long been a major source of economic and demographic growth in the United States. It has also long been a source of inequality. The last great wave of migration, at the turn of the previous century, brought large numbers of relatively lower skilled immigrants to the United States, diversifying the labor market, increasing rates of poverty, ...

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Chapter 7. Frames of Achievement and Opportunity Horizons

Jennifer Lee, Min Zhou

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pp. 206-231

In the status attainment model, family socioeconomic status (SES)—measured by parental education, occupation, income, and wealth—is the most significant variable in determining an individual’s mobility outcomes (Blau and Duncan 1967; Duncan, Featherman, and Duncan 1972). Prior research in immigration has relied on this model to explain intergenerational mobility, poverty, and inequality. ...

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Chapter 8. Reassessing Human Capital and Intergenerational Mobility

Roberto G. Gonzales

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pp. 232-254

This chapter examines the adult experiences of undocumented immigrants who migrate as children and must navigate legal and economic limitations (for expanded versions of some of the arguments presented here, see Gonzales 2010a, 2011). Empirically, I draw from 150 life history interviews and four and a half years of fieldwork with 1.5-generation young adults of Mexican origin living in the Los Angeles Metropolitan area. ...

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Part III. Public Policy and Poverty Among the Foreign Born

The material well-being of the various immigrant communities in the United States are touched in various ways by policies passed and implemented at the federal and state levels. In addition to the impacts of changes in immigration policy, border enforcement, and internal enforcement of labor laws, policies regarding eligibility for antipoverty programs as well as political participation likely impact immigrant earnings and by extensions poverty rates. ...

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Chapter 9. Immigration Enforcement as a Race-Making Institution

Douglas S. Massey

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pp. 257-281

With a population of 50.5 million in 2010, Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States, 16.3 percent of the population, versus the African American 12.6 percent. Mexicans alone numbered 31.8 million that year, some 10.3 percent of the U.S. population (Ennis, Ríos-Vargas, and Albert 2011). ...

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Chapter 10. Employment Effects of State Legislation

Sarah Bohn, Magnus Lofstrom

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pp. 282-314

The United States is home to a large and growing number of unauthorized immigrants. The most recent estimates indicate that this population increased from about 3 million in the late 1980s to around 11 million in 2009 (Passel and Cohn 2010). ...

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Chapter 11. Immigrants, Welfare Reform, and the U.S. Safety Net

Marianne P. Bitler, Hilary W. Hoynes

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pp. 315-380

Beginning with the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, many of the central safety net programs in the United States eliminated benefits for legal immigrants, who previously had been eligible on the same terms as citizens. These dramatic cutbacks affected eligibility for numerous government programs: ...

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Chapter 12. Immigration and Redistributive Social Policy

Cybelle Fox, Irene Bloemraad, Christel Kesler

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pp. 381-420

The pervasiveness of contemporary immigration and the historic image of the United States as a nation of immigrants make it hard to remember that in 1965 almost 95 percent of the U.S. population was native born (Gibson and Lennon 1999). Immigration was a negligible issue, and few could imagine the diversity we see today. ...

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Part IV. Immigrants in Europe

The primary focus of this volume is on immigration and poverty in the United States. Increasingly, however, immigration is a concern in other developed countries, including the nations of Europe, which have experienced unprecedented increases in immigrant inflows over the past two decades. ...

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Chapter 13. Immigration: The European Experience

Christian Dustmann, Tommaso Frattini

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pp. 423-456

For most European countries, large-scale immigration is a more recent phenomenon than for countries such as Australia, the United States, or Canada. For instance, although Germany and Spain today have foreign-born populations similar to that of the United States in relative terms (14.5 percent and 13 percent of their total populations, respectively), ...


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pp. 457-469

E-ISBN-13: 9781610448048
E-ISBN-10: 1610448049
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871544988
Print-ISBN-10: 0871544989

Page Count: 484
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 907048737
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality

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Subject Headings

  • Economic policy.
  • International economic relations.
  • International finance.
  • Global Financial Crisis, 2008-2009.
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