An american irony: the story of Mexican immigrant poverty in the land of immigrants



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This dissertation uses data from the 2006 American Community Survey and Decennial Census 2000 to analyze trends and determinants of poverty among Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in the Southwestern United States. The chapters include: 1) an Introduction; 2) a Literature Review with sub-sections on many issues related to these populations; 3) a discussion of Data and Methods including a section on the Development of a Proxy Variable for Undocumented Status; 4) Results for Mexican Americans (Individual Level); 5) Results for Mexican Immigrants (Individual Level); 6) Multilevel Results; and 7) Conclusions and Future Research Directions. The introduction and literature review will provide a background and overview of the research, as well as the analysis of poverty at the individual and contextual level (i.e. the Super-PUMA level). Data and methods are then discussed relative to all the analyses to be undertaken in the dissertation. In addition, specific emphasis in this chapter will be placed on the methodology pertaining to the development of the undocumented proxy variable. In Chapter IV data are analyzed at the individual level through the use of logistic regression. Special attention is placed on variables pertaining to ethnicity, citizenship status, and years spent in the US, among others, in order to predict the likelihood of Mexican Americans being in extreme poverty, one hundred percent poverty, and low-income. The focus is then narrowed in Chapter V to Mexican immigrants with special attention given to the effect on poverty of undocumented status. In Chapter VI, independent variables at the contextual level are used to predict poverty in conjunction with those used at the individual level; these include the percentage of persons in poverty, concentration of Mexican immigrants, and the relative presence of various industries. The findings confirm that both individual level and contextual level predictors are key in the determination of poverty for Mexican Americans and immigrants. In the conclusion, discussion is given to the fact that many studies have focused on the individual level predictors of poverty; this research goes one step further in that it examines poverty not only with respect to individual predictors, but also group level variables.