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Latino Daily News

Thursday April 7, 2011

Studies May Be Misrepresenting the Economic Progress of Mexican-Americans

Studies May Be Misrepresenting the Economic Progress of Mexican-Americans

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Some researchers believe that certain studies have not accurately indicated the economic progress of descendants of Mexican immigrants in the United States, and actually underestimate the growth.

Recent studies have speculated that third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans are no more likely to finish high school than their parents and grandparents were. However, in The Journal of Labor Economics, two economists said these studies tend to use misleading data.

Brian Duncan of the University of Colorado and Stephen Trejo of the University of Texas explained that most studies use data collected by relying on “ethnic self-identification” to identify a “population of interest.”

This results in the possibility that, in this case, descendants of Mexican immigrants who don’t necessarily identify themselves as Mexican-American on census forms or surveys, are excluded from studies like that of economic progress.

Duncan and Trejo said this is especially true for the children of Mexicans who may marry non-Mexicans, but who still clearly have Mexican ancestry. Research has shown that children of intermarried Mexicans are much more likely to further their education and have better English language skills, and would therefore change the results of the studies being released.

“In effect, through the selective nature of intermarriage and ethnic identification, some of the most successful descendants of Mexican immigrants are not included in intergenerational studies,” said Trejo.

The two economists state that actually, about 30 percent of third-generation Mexican youth do not identify themselves as Mexican. This could be due to the fact that they were born outside of Mexico, and no matter their ancestry, are hesitant to make that self-identification, though Trejo and Duncan did not touch on that possibility.

And while some studies have been suggesting that Mexican immigrants and their descendants are not assimilating in American society, the two believe the opposite, saying that some may actually be assimilating to the point that they are not being identified as being of Mexican decent and are, in turn, excluded from research.