Acculturation, Context of Reception and Capitals Affecting Economic Integration of Latino Newcomers to the Midwest in 2009
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Latino immigration to rural areas of the Midwest increased during the 1990s. Through the period 2008-2009 a household survey was conducted in three regions of the Midwest experiencing distinct labor pull factors. The questionnaire was developed using a livelihoods strategies framework. This framework acknowledges the impact of economic variables, as well as social-cultural factors, due to the characteristics of the newcomers, Latino households, which often are foreign born. Unique characteristics of this ethnic group, foreign born, of a rural origin, with lack of English ability, and cultural norms of reciprocity and informal networks, are some of the factors why the sustainable livelihoods framework can contribute to our understanding of what makes it possible for Latinos to settle and integrate. A proxy for the ability to integrate is the income earnings from employment in the community. A semi-log OLS model is specified to measure the effect of capitals, acculturation, and subjective measure of community climate on Latino newcomers' income earnings. Income earnings are used as a proxy for economic accumulation for the dependent variable. A logarithm of wages of individual i is regressed on a vector of capitals of individuals Xi and a vector of perceptions of community characteristics Zt hypothesized to affect the ability of a Latino immigrant to generate income in three regions. The inverse Mill's ratio Î» is included to account for selection bias. Thus, the estimations is: L(wage) = βXi + αZt + λ(cπ) + ε where I =1,2 ... n and t = 1,2,3. Here, the β and α are vectors of unknown parameters; and ε represents the error term. X vector includes capitals; three acculturation measures; cultural identity; legal status and individual characteristics. The Z vector includes social networks and a community climate proxy. Data for this study includes three regions of Missouri, obtained from a household survey of 460 Latino/a individuals in non-urban areas of Missouri, collected in 2009. Previous study shows that most Latino immigrants move in search of work, and mobility has a negative impact on foreign-born Latino's income. Thus, mobility is hypothesized to have a negative impact on the income of those Latinos that are not properly documented, given that they are more likely to be foreign born. A composite measure of the social capital is hypothesized to have a positive effect on earnings. Preliminary study shows that integration and assimilation categories of acculturation are positively correlated with well-being; therefore these are hypothesized to affect income positively. We expect context of reception to have a negative effect on earnings, social capital to have a positive effect, education is expected to have a positive effect on earnings, and acculturation (bicultural and assimilation) a positive effect. Gender is expected to have a negative effect on income earnings. The results are expected to influence our understanding of how assets and community context, acculturation and agency influence economic integration of Latinos in their community. This study is also expected to inform the public debate and current policy aimed at immigrants in general.