Ethnic Attrition, Assimilation, and the Measured Health Outcomes of Mexican Americans

42 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2020

See all articles by Francisca Antman

Francisca Antman

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics

Brian Duncan

University of Colorado at Denver

Stephen J. Trejo

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

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Abstract

The literature on immigrant assimilation and intergenerational progress has sometimes reached surprising conclusions, such as the puzzle of immigrant advantage which finds that Hispanic immigrants sometimes have better health than U.S.-born Hispanics. While numerous studies have attempted to explain these patterns, almost all studies rely on subjective measures of ethnic self-identification to identify immigrants' descendants. This can lead to bias due to "ethnic attrition," which occurs whenever a U.S.-born descendant of a Hispanic immigrant fails to self-identify as Hispanic.In this paper, we exploit information on parents' and grandparents' place of birth to show that Mexican ethnic attrition, operating through intermarriage, is sizable and selective on health, making subsequent generations of Mexican immigrants appear less healthy than they actually are. Consequently, conventional estimates of health disparities between Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites as well as those between Mexican Americans and recent Mexican immigrants have been significantly overstated.

Keywords: assimilation, immigrant health advantage, ethnic attrition

JEL Classification: J15, J12, I14

Suggested Citation

Antman, Francisca and Duncan, Brian and Trejo, Stephen J., Ethnic Attrition, Assimilation, and the Measured Health Outcomes of Mexican Americans. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12952, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3534500

Francisca Antman (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Brian Duncan

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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