The Case of the Disappearing Mexican Americans: An Ethnic-Identity Mystery

The Case of the Disappearing Mexican Americans: An Ethnic-Identity Mystery We examine the issue of identification stability for U.S.-born Mexican Americans, by far the largest of the ethnic groups growing as a result of contemporary immigration. We demonstrate a significant exodus from the group as identified by the census. Although changes in the wording of the census question may have contributed to this loss, a major portion, as revealed by comparisons of birth cohorts across the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses, occurs because individuals who identified themselves as Mexican American at an earlier point in time do not do so at a later point. In addition, there are exits that occur between generations because of past intermarriage, evident in the number of non-Hispanics who claim Mexican ancestry. The losses appear to be accounted for by two kinds of identity shifts: toward identities that have a mainstream character and thus appear reflect conventional assimilation; and toward identities that have a pan-ethnic character, i.e., with Hispanics or Latinos. These exits are selective, but in complex and partially off-setting ways. Nevertheless, the comparison of the characteristics of U.S.-born members of the Mexican–American group over time is likely to be affected by changing patterns of identification. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Population Research and Policy Review Springer Journals

The Case of the Disappearing Mexican Americans: An Ethnic-Identity Mystery

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Social Sciences; Demography; Sociology, general; Population Economics
ISSN
0167-5923
eISSN
1573-7829
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11113-008-9081-x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We examine the issue of identification stability for U.S.-born Mexican Americans, by far the largest of the ethnic groups growing as a result of contemporary immigration. We demonstrate a significant exodus from the group as identified by the census. Although changes in the wording of the census question may have contributed to this loss, a major portion, as revealed by comparisons of birth cohorts across the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses, occurs because individuals who identified themselves as Mexican American at an earlier point in time do not do so at a later point. In addition, there are exits that occur between generations because of past intermarriage, evident in the number of non-Hispanics who claim Mexican ancestry. The losses appear to be accounted for by two kinds of identity shifts: toward identities that have a mainstream character and thus appear reflect conventional assimilation; and toward identities that have a pan-ethnic character, i.e., with Hispanics or Latinos. These exits are selective, but in complex and partially off-setting ways. Nevertheless, the comparison of the characteristics of U.S.-born members of the Mexican–American group over time is likely to be affected by changing patterns of identification.

Journal

Population Research and Policy ReviewSpringer Journals

Published: May 14, 2008

References

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