Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States

47 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2008

See all articles by Brian Duncan

Brian Duncan

University of Colorado at Denver

Stephen J. Trejo

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Using microdata from the 2000 U.S. Census, we analyze the responses of Mexican Americans to questions that independently elicit their "ethnicity" (or Hispanic origin) and their "ancestry." We investigate whether different patterns of responses to these questions reflect varying degrees of ethnic attachment. For example, those identified as "Mexican" in both the Hispanic origin and the ancestry questions might have stronger ethnic ties than those identified as Mexican only in the ancestry question. How U.S.-born Mexicans report their ethnicity/ancestry is strongly associated with measures of human capital and labor market performance. In particular, educational attainment, English proficiency, and earnings are especially high for men and women who claim a Mexican ancestry but report their ethnicity as "not Hispanic." Further, intermarriage and the Mexican identification of children are also strongly related to how U.S.-born Mexican adults report their ethnicity/ancestry, revealing a possible link between the intergenerational transmission of Mexican identification and economic status.

Keywords: Mexican, ethnicity, ancestry, intermarriage

JEL Classification: J15, J12, J62

Suggested Citation

Duncan, Brian and Trejo, Stephen J., Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3552, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1150721 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Brian Duncan (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Denver ( email )

Box 173364
1250 14th Street
Denver, CO 80217
United States

Stephen J. Trejo

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-475-8512 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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