Geography and the etiology of poverty among Latino children

Nancy Susan Landale, Daniel T. Lichter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective. The primary objective of this article is to assess the extent to which the residence patterns of Latino subgroups account for differences in poverty among children of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, and other Latino origins. A guiding hypothesis is that labor market conditions affect child poverty indirectly through parental employment patterns and family structure. Methods. These issues are addressed with a logistic regression analysis based on a child file created from the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) of the 1990 Census and merged with metropolitan-level information on labor market conditions. Results. Our findings demonstrate substantial spatial and ethnic-group variation in the economic status of Latino children. Latino children living in metropolitan areas with high unemployment, low wages, and substantial residential segregation have the highest risk of poverty. Neither labor market characteristics nor parental employment nor family structure, however, can fully account for the comparatively low poverty rate of Cuban children and the high poverty rates of Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans. Conclusions. Our results raise questions about the potential effectiveness of economic-development initiatives aimed at poor places and welfare reform targeted at poor people as strategies to reduce intergroup inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-894
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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