Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

CSDE Fellows Invited Lectures

Intergenerational Educational Mobility among Mexican Americans Across the 20th Century

Jennifer Van Hook, Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University

02/07/2020
12:30-1:30 PM PT
121 Raitt Hall

Concerns about the integration of Mexican-Americans have been amplified by the phenomenon of third generation delay, whereby the 3rd-or-higher generation has similar or lower educational attainment than the 2nd generation in analyses of cross-sectional data.  Using unique longitudinal data, however, we find no evidence of third generation delay.  Although Mexican-Americans still experience disadvantages, the educational attainment of third-generation Mexican-Americans increased dramatically and consistently across generations. The third-generation delay pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses stems in large part from historical disadvantages in starting points and educational mobility.  Finally, our results reveal dramatic improvements in Mexican-American educational opportunities among the children of immigrants since the 1970s.  Overall the results indicate that cross-sectional assessments of Mexican-American integration are misleading and underestimate this group’s prospects going forward.


Jennifer Van Hook is Roy C. Buck Professor of Sociology and Demography at the Pennsylvania State University, and non-resident fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.  She is a former editor of Demography and former director of the Population Research Institute at Penn State.  She has expertise in the demographics of immigrant populations and the socioeconomic integration of immigrants and their children, particularly on how immigrant’s legal status influences the settlement and integration process.  One strand of her work uses demographic methods to estimate the size, characteristics, and dynamics of the unauthorized foreign-born population. Another strand of her work focuses on the health and well-being of immigrants and their children.

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