47 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2006 Last revised: 23 Aug 2008
Date Written: April 2006
The rate of assimilation of Latino - and particularly Mexican-America - migrants to the United States has recently become the subject of popular discussion. The discussion has generated a growing interest among academics in examining the assimilation of Latino migrants to the United States, and their offspring (see Trejo 1997, 2003, Blau and Kahn 2004, and Cobb-Clark and Hildebrand 2004 for example). The issue takes on particular salience because of the size of the migratory flow in the past two decades. Nearly 14% of individuals responding to the 2000 U.S. Census identified themselves as being of Latino origin, surpassing African Americans as the largest ethnic group in the country.
By far the largest group of Latinos is of Mexican descent. Data from the 2000 population census show that Mexican-Americans represented 57% of Latino s, and 8% of the population, in 2000. The percentage of Mexican-Americans in the U.S. population increased to 9.2% by March 2004, according to data from the Current Population Survey. If current trends continue, Mexican-Americans will become the largest ethnic or racial group in the United States within the next ten years. A large percentage of Latinos and Mexican-Americans, in particular, were born outside of the United States. Census data indicate that 46% of the Mexican-American population, and 67% of the working age population, were born in Mexico. Conversely, 28% of those born outside the U.S. were born in Mexico.
One area in which Mexican-Americans differ markedly from non-Latino whites is in their rate of business ownership. Rates of self employment are much lower among Mexican-Americans than among non-Latino whites. For example, only 5.7% of Mexican-American men are self-employed compared to 13.3% of non-Latino white men.
The central question we address in this paper is why rates of self employment among Mexican-Americans lag behind rates for non-Latino whites. Despite their weight in the U.S. population, there are only a handful of studies that examine business ownership among Mexican-Americans or Latinos more broadly.
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