Why Do Mexican Americans Earn Low Wages?

JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 105, No. 6, December 1997

Posted: 16 Jul 1997

See all articles by Stephen J. Trejo

Stephen J. Trejo

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

Abstract

Using Current Population Survey data from November 1979 and 1989, I find that Mexican Americans earn low wages primarily because they possess less human capital than other workers, not because they receive smaller labor market rewards for their skills. Among third- and higher-generation men in 1989, Mexicans averaged 21 percent lower wages than non-Hispanic whites, which is roughly similar to the wage deficit for blacks. For Mexicans, more than three-quarters of the wage gap is attributable to their relative youth, English language deficiencies, and especially their lower educational attainment. By contrast, these variables explain less than a third of the black-white wage gap.

JEL Classification: J24, J31, J71

Suggested Citation

Trejo, Stephen J., Why Do Mexican Americans Earn Low Wages?. JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 105, No. 6, December 1997, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=8638

Stephen J. Trejo (Contact Author)

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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