The importance of social networks on Latino Immigrants' Well-being in Rural Missouri
Latino immigrants have been changing their settlement and migration patterns. Recent immigration has seen a different breed of immigrants headed to rural areas, composed of both genders and settled longer in receiving communities. This recent wave of immigration into the rural areas has been raising concerns about resource distribution and use. Recently, monumental efforts have been put into research on Latinos' economic wellbeing because of its potential to disperse widespread fears of opportunism by Latino immigrant and point out alternative avenues of economic integration into the community. Recent research has shown that immigrant workforce is vital to the economic development of the communities receiving them. Besides contributing positively to the generation of income in the community, immigrants infuse these towns with diversity, which is vital to the socioeconomic survival of communities. On the opposite side, some researchers claim that immigrants have been changing most of the small cities they have located in by draining city resources and altering the quality of life. However, the claim that Latino immigrants overwhelm social welfare services to sustain their well-being seems a little bit confusing because current law does not provide for it. A pertinent question is: in light of all these changes, how are immigrants sustaining or improving their well-being. One avenue pointed out by the literature is that Latinos use their social networks for survival in these communities. This approach suggests that besides cost-benefit analysis, individuals factor into their decisions the ability to obtain help from social resources in order to make a living in these communities. Therefore, this study adopts the stance that social networks are really important, and our objective is to assess the impact of these social networks on immigrants' well-being in both Latino and selected Missouri rural communities. Using Sustainable Livelihoods framework as a starting point, this research intends to assess Latinos' well-being in these communities. In this study, a self-defined well-being measure, subjective well-being, is used as the dependent variable. For the independent variables, besides demographic variables, social capital is used as a proxy for social networks. Additionally, better measures of ethnicity and context of reception variables are introduced to help assess both the impact of Latinos in the community as well as the perception that Latinos have of their receiving communities. The study uses ordered probit regression methods to assess the impact of social network use on well-being of Latinos and comparatively assess the differential impact of social networks on Latino immigrants? well-being due to the type of work that they have, irrespective of the areas in which they live.