Hyphenated Americans? How Ethnic Identification among the 1.5 and Second Generation Relates to Socioeconomic Trajectories

Catherine L. Thorkelson, Princeton University

How does the ethnic self-identification among children of immigrants relate to their socioeconomic trajectories? Logistic regression is employed to determine correlates of adolescents' initial self-labels (American, hyphenated American, racial, or foreign nationality) and changes in identification over a decade. Change in self-identification is widespread, particularly among boys and youth of lower socioeconomic status. The proportion 'American' declines dramatically from age 14 to 18, with the exception of European- and Canadian-origin youth. Regression results show that youth who use racial terms obtain less education, earn less, and have higher risk of arrest than those who use hyphenated or foreign nationality labels. Calling oneself ‘American’ at age 14 is also associated with lower socioeconomic attainment at age 24. The results suggest that stronger attachment to one's parents' or own national origins is associated with greater socioeconomic attainment by early adulthood.

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Presented in Poster Session 9