There are two fundamental arguments about why Mexican Americans have failed to be assimilated. Human capital theorists argue that it is due to their inferior human capital. In contrast, other theorists argue that discrimination is the primary reason. Our proposition is that both arguments are better served if data parse out Mexican immigrants. Failure to do so creates statistical bias regarding the “true” status of Mexican-American workers and thus the Mexican-American population.
We estimate an earnings function among three Mexican ancestry groups: Mexican-American workers, Mexican immigrant workers, and a co-mingled sample of Mexican-American and Mexican immigrant workers over the period from 1940 to 2017.
Our findings suggest important differences in the earnings process between Mexican-American workers and Mexican immigrant workers. Moreover, we also find important differences in discrimination between both groups of workers.
If the focus of future research is the labor market experiences of Mexican Americans, care should be made in parsing out Mexican immigrant workers from their sample; otherwise, results would be biased and conclusions inaccurate.