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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Immigrant Women in Los Angeles


In this paper we take a structural approach to understanding the role of female,and particularly Mexican, immigrants in the Los Angeles economy. It is structural in that recent enduring, if not permanent, macro-economic changes generated by increased global competition are affecting the nature of employment. The resulting structural shifts are reinforced by changes in the labor supply created by extensive immigration. Together these factors are contributing to a growing stratification of the laborforce that over the last several decades has taken the form of growing inequality along several dimensions: income, generational, spatial, gender, and racial inequality. To illustrate the extent of the problem,we examine the most economically disenfranchised segment of the population,recent Latina immigrants in Los Angeles. It is our argument that this group provides an accurate barometer of growing immiseration pervading society, and insight into the broader reaches of the burgeoning class of working poor in the U.S. Further,we feel that analysis of Los Angeles, the city which has experienced both the most significant industrial growth and largest influx of immigrants in the United States during the last decade, offers unusually strong evidence of these trends.

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