Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mex-Am incomes are rising but still way behind: One way to assess an immigrant group's progress in terms of assimilation is to look at trends in income. Readers are aware that I am most concerned about Mexican immigrant since the group is large, lacking in human capital, and concentrated in one region--the Southwest. I'm currently reading Mexicano Political Experience in Occupied Aztlan by UC Riverside professor Armando Navarro. It looks like another case of a white guy trying to prove he's not by adopting radical, idiotic positions. I've lived in the Southwest before but was under the mistaken belief that it belonged to the United States. These brown nationalist types have their ideology all worked out--the book is around 700 pages long--but the question is, will Mexican Americans have enough success in America to reject this kind of nonsense.

Using GSS data, let's look at mean family income in 1986 dollars across four decades. The sample doesn't capture any Warren Buffets, so I think we're okay using means:

Mean family income for Mexican Americans in 1986 dollars (N = 1,325)

Seventies 20,331
Eighties 19,512
Nineties 25,365
This decade 24,874

You might be thinking that the increase is due to larger households, but those have shrunk not grown for Mexican Americans over the past four decades. I see progress here, but let's compare these numbers to other immigrant groups:

Mean family income in 1986 dollars

Chinese Americans (N = 162)
Seventies 39,894
Eighties 41,772
Nineties 41,095
This decade 61,976

Filipino Americans (N = 171)
Seventies 31,909
Eighties 33,026
Nineties 32,300
This decade 42,593

Indian Americans (N = 145)
Seventies 38,105
Eighties 28,473
Nineties 39,072
This decade 45,661

So the good news is that Mex-Ams are improving, but the bad news is that they are lagging significantly behind other groups. The gap is not closing with other immigrants or whites (data not shown), and that's a problem.

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