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Immigrants and mobility

Posted by: Michael Mandel on June 06

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

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Reader Comments

Jack Krupansky

June 6, 2005 12:11 PM

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

Steve Antler (the EconoPundit)

June 7, 2005 09:12 AM

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).

Michael Mandel

June 7, 2005 12:11 PM

Data source added to item...thanks


June 7, 2005 02:43 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.

Thank you for your interest. This blog is no longer active.



Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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