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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ethnicity, Employment and Migration


Accounts of the economic circumstances of various population subgroups since 1960 indicate increased inequality between majority and selected minority populations, and increased polarization within these minority populations (see Wilson 1987; Farley 1984; Allen and Farley 1986; Hirschman 1988; Hernandez 1983). Specifically, recent studies reveal that the Black-White gap in unemployment (in both absolute and relative terms) has increased, and levels of labor force nonparticipation rose, with the latter appearing to be almost entirely a minority phenomenon (Hirschman 1988; Allen and Farley 1986; Lichter 1988). This paper continues this line of research via analyses of trends in employment and an assessment of the effect of migration on employment among Blacks, Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and non-Hispanic White Americans. Specifically, the questions we wish to address are whether the level of employment of these groups changed since 1965 and whether migrating between 1975 and 1980 affected the likelihood of being employed in 1980.

In focusing on the association of employment with migration, our objective is to determine whether the opportunity enhancement function of migration apply equally to each of the ethnic groups included in the analysis. Results from previous works suggest that migration might possibly offer a solution to the chronic joblessness observed among some ethnic populations concentrated in the nation's largest cities. In the analysis presented below, this assertion is subjected to an empirical test.

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