This study investigates whether Hispanic immigrants assimilate in occupational status with natives and the factors that determine occupational status. A theoretical framework is proposed that models occupational status and convergence of Hispanics relative to U.S.-born non-Hispanics as a function of human capital and demographic exogenous variables, U.S. experience (assimilation effects) and periods of migration (cohort effects). In addition, the model also controls for aggregate economic conditions and location effects. The empirical testing is based on a random effects model estimation procedure to accommodate the longitudinal PSID panel data used in the analysis.
The results suggest that length of time resided in the U.S. narrows the occupational gap between Hispanic immigrants and non-Hispanic Whites and U.S.-born Hispanic counterparts. The level of individuals’ human capital affects the rate of occupational mobility and determines whether convergence occurs in occupational status. Mexican immigrants with low human capital start in occupations with relatively low status and they do not experience much occupational mobility. Their occupational status does not converge with that of non-Hispanic or U.S.-born Hispanic counterparts. However, Mexican immigrants with high human capital experience occupational mobility, and catch up with non-Hispanic Whites after 15 years and with U.S.-born Hispanics after 10 years of working in the U.S.