Not Fitting in Elite Notions of Success Does Not Make Latinos Losers


Every time comprehensive immigration reform gathers steam, some new restrictionist trope emerges to show that Latinos are ambitionless losers who can't be assimilated in the American mainstream. The latest one is that by the third — not first, not second, but third — generation Latinos stop advancing. They drop out of college, shun professional fields and become part of the great American underclass.

But such fears are overblown. For starters, they are based on systematically skewed data. Many Latinos stop self-identifying as Latinos by the third generation given the high rate of intermarriage. However, the Census Bureau relies on respondents' own identification when it classifies them. This means that the many educationally, professionally, linguistically and ethnically integrated Hispanics don't even get counted as Hispanics in various studies relying on Census data. 

In addition, I note in a column in the Washington Examiner this morning:

A new study by Jennifer Lee and others at the University of California, Irvine, examining the intergenerational mobility of various immigrant groups in Los Angeles, found that the educational attainment of Mexicans does stall after the third generation, compared to Asian immigrants. "However," they note, "it is far from clear that this cross-sectional finding represents any kind of downward mobility or stagnation."

Mexican median household income rises from $27,748 in the first generation to $53,719 in the second and $62,930 in the third. Likewise, the rate of homeownership rises from 35.2 percent in the 1.5 generation to 62.3 percent in the second and nearly 72 percent in the third-plus.

Go here for the whole thing.