Secondary earner strategies and family poverty: immigrant-native differentials, 1960-1980

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Since the mid-1960s, the US has witnessed a new wave of immigration that has been characterized by dramatic increases in both the number of new arrivals entering to be reunited with kin and the flows from Asian and Latin American countries. The new immigration has given rise to concern that the US is welcoming far too many people destined for the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. These fears run contrary to the traditional image of immigrants as being willing to make sacrifices via labor force commitment in order to prosper economically. To address these issues, this article studies immigrant-native differentials in the ability of secondary earners to lift families out of poverty. Using both descriptive and multivariate techniques to analyze the 1960, 1970 and 1980 US Census Public Use Samples, it compares immigrant and native families among four key race groups: white, black, Hispanic and Asian. It is shown that the ameliorative impact of secondary earners is greater for immigrant than native families; that this generalization holds for whites, blacks and Hispanics but not Asians; and that the immigrant advantage in ameliorative effects vis-a-vis natives declined noticeably over the 1960-1980 period for all but Asian families. -from Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-140
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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