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Immigrants and mobility


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June 06, 2005

Immigrants and mobility

Michael Mandel

Here's a little chart showing that at least some immigrants are still upwardly mobile.

In 1995, families headed by immigrants who entered the country in the 1980s had a 26.6% poverty rate. That plunged to 14% in 2001, before bouncing back up to 16.4% in 2003.

Now, I don't know about you, but a 40% decline in the poverty rate (26.6% to 16.4%) sounds like pretty good upward mobility to me.

Added: Data comes from the Census Bureau

09:06 AM

Income Distribution

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That's 40% over a minimum of 14 years, and maybe as much as 23 years, or over an average of about 18 years. 2.2% a year? By what criteria is that really "pretty good" as opposed to merely so-so? What is the rate historically, in the 60's,or 70's or even the 1840's or 1900's?

So, this is measuring the rate at which immigrant get on their feet after landing here, or maybe how many years it takes for an average immigrant to get on their feet?

-- Jack Krupansky

Posted by: Jack Krupansky at June 6, 2005 12:11 PM

Michael, please, with all due respect -- if you're not going to provide a link to the data source, at least say what the source is.

The major mobility studies I've seen show that roughly 50% of everyone in the lowest quintile move up over a ten year period. This would have to include all immigrants who start out at the bottom and remain in the U.S. (rather than, for example, working here for a few years and then moving back to Mexico).

Posted by: Steve Antler (the EconoPundit) at June 7, 2005 09:12 AM

Data source added to item...thanks

Posted by: Michael Mandel at June 7, 2005 12:11 PM

The drop in poverty of immigrants has more to do with the mix of immigrants coming in.

The rise in numbers of skilled immigrants from India, China, and Russia (i.e. those with advanced degrees on arrival), combined with a simultaneous decline in the numbers of less-educated Cambodians, Vietnamese, Salvadorians, Haitians, etc. have lifted overall statistics.

Posted by: Kartik at June 7, 2005 02:43 PM


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