Are Ethnic Enclaves Necessary?: Differential Wage Returns to English Ability in New Immigrant Destinations

Sergio Chavez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ted Mouw, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jacqueline Hagan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In the past two decades, we have witnessed the geographical dispersion of immigrants from traditional to new destinations in the U.S. The growth of the immigrant population outside of traditional destinations (with large concentrations of co-ethnics) provides an opportunity to study geographic variation in economic mobility for Mexican immigrants. Research on the ethnic enclave suggests that co-ethnics provide employment assistance to immigrants who lack English language skills. The importance of the ethnic enclave in providing assistance raises the question of why so many immigrants are moving to new destinations where they may not have access to co-ethnic ties that facilitate employment opportunities. Using data from the 1990 and 2000 Public Use Micro Sample (PUMS) of the Census and the 2005 and 2006 waves of the American Community Survey (ACS), we test whether the ethnic enclave becomes as asset or burden on the wage returns for immigrants in the U.S.

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Presented in Session 164: Immigrants in Old and New Destinations