Monday, October 18, 2010

Overheard at Cornell: Race

My tweets during the seminar given by Stephen Trejo of UT Austin on "Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans":

[This is] One of the funniest economics seminars in memory on intermarriage and ethnic identity of Mexican Americans. 

 Story 1 - How did 4 million Irish immigrants become 40 million Irish Americans? Turns out Irish/French or Irish/Germans emphasize Irish. Maybe Irish have more fun...

Story 2 - 1970s census asked if a person came from "Central/South America." Bunch of people in Alabama et al. checked Yes.

Story 3 - We have two questions (Hispanic, then race) because so many Hispanics would put "other, Mexican" or "other, Latino" etc. for race. 

Story 4 - Survey of adult identical twins: which race do you identify with? One twin said African-American, one twin said white. 

Story 5 - Another set of identical twins with complex heritage were coded as being from different races by Harvard admissions. 

The more serious discussion below the fold:
The point from their previous work is that people from mixed marriages practice "selective ethnic attrition" by marking white or some other ethnicity depending on their socio-economic success. Thus when you look at schooling and economic attainment by race, it looks like 3rd+ generation Americans do no better than 2nd while previous waves of immigrants have seen a continued big change. Answer: selective ethnic attrition.

~half US-born Mexican men marry US-born Mexican women and vice versa. 1/4 marry white. 1/8 - 1/5 marry foreign-born Mexican. census also shows: US-born Mexican husband who marries non-Mexican has avg. 13 yrs schooling, 1 yr more than if marries US-born Mex wife. same goes on the other side: non-Mex men who marry US-born Mexican wife have 1.5 yrs more schooling.

Form the CPS: 90% of adults with two Mex-American parents identify themselves as Mexican but those who don't have 1/2 yr more schooling.  self-ID as Mexican by number of grandparents born in Mexico: 4 - 96%. 3 - 95%. 2 - 79%. 1 - 58%.

They find the same thing for Puerto Ricans, and opposite ethnic attrition for Asian Americans: lower status more likely to intermarry. So we're likely overstating progress of Asian-descended Americans and understating progress of Mexican and Puerto Rican-descended Americans.

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