The Coming of the Second Generation: Immigration and Ethnic Mobility in Southern California

Publication Date:
Jan 2008
Project Programs:

In a context of widening inequality and governmental persecution of undocumented immigrants, central questions concern the social mobility of new ethnic groups formed as a result of mass migration from Latin America and Asia—especially the growing number of children of immigrants now transitioning to adulthood. This article presents findings from merged samples of two research studies in Southern California, the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS-III) and Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA). The focus is on the educational mobility of foreign-parentage (1.5- and second-generation) young adults of Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian origin. The author examines factors that facilitate or derail mobility, including the role of parental human capital and legal/citizenship status, family and neighborhood contexts, early school achievement, acculturation, incarceration, and teenage and nonmarital childbearing, compared to patterns observed among native-parentage (third-generation and beyond) whites, blacks, and Mexican Americans. The article then considers the relationship between acculturation and mobility outcomes and the resulting new patterns of urban ethnic inequality.


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