Immigration & Poverty


Immigration and Poverty

Image of Immigration and Poverty

The Center’s focus on immigration and poverty is motivated by the important role immigrants play in the U.S. economy, and by the Center’s location in the Central Valley of California. Each of our other research areas: Labor Markets and Poverty, the Intergenerational Transmission of Poverty, and the Non-cash Safety Net hold questions that are unique to the immigrant experience.

For example, what is the connection between low skilled workers’ wages, inequality and immigration? How do access and take-up of safety-net programs among immigrant populations differ from native populations? How does the process of immigrant assimilation affect intergenerational mobility?

Our Research Affiliates across a wide range of disciplines are employing both quantitative and qualitative research strategies to shed light on these important questions.

Research Paper Hilary Hoynes Marianne Page Ann Huff Stevens

Poverty in America: Trends and Explanations
Hilary Hoynes, Marianne Page, and Ann Huff Stevens (Affiliates in Economics)

Over the past 45 years, the United States has experienced a rising standard of living, with real GDP per capita more than doubling between 1959 and 2004. In contrast, living standards among some groups seem to have stagnated. Although a number of studies have documented a correlation between macroeconomic conditions and poverty, the relationship is not as simple, or as strong, as one might think. What additional factors can explain the starkly different trends in economic well-being that are measured by overall GDP growth and the poverty rate?

State Child Health Insurance Program Policies & Immigrant-Native Disparities in Children’s Health Care
Erin Hamilton (Affiliate in Sociology) with graduate researcher Ethan Evans (Sociology)

This project, funded through the Center for Poverty Research Graduate Student Fellowship Program, examines whether differences in state implementation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) affects disparities in health care between children of immigrants and children of natives. 

Research Paper Philip Martin

Importing Poverty? Immigration and Changing the Face of Rural America
Philip Martin (Affiliate in Agricultural and Resource Economics)

American agriculture employs some 2.5 million workers during a typical year, most for fewer than six months. Three fourths of these farm workers are immigrants, half are unauthorized, and most will leave seasonal farm work within a decade. What do these statistics mean for farmers, for laborers, for rural America?

Research Paper Hilary Hoynes

Immigrants, Welfare Reform, and the U.S. Safety Net
Marianne Bitler and Hilary W. Hoynes (Affiliate in Economics)

Reductions in eligibility requirements have significantly impacted access to safety net programs for immigrants. Research Affiliates investigate these policy changes to assess how reductions have affected the success of immigrants in escaping poverty.

Research Paper Erin R. Hamilton

Assimilation and Emerging Health Disparities Among New Generations of U.S. Children
Erin R. Hamilton (Affiliate in Sociology), Jodi Berger Cardoso, Robert A. Hummer and Yolanda C. Padilla

Children of immigrants currently make up one in four of all children in the United States, and this proportion is expected to increase to one-third by 2050. On average, children of immigrants are more likely than children of natives to live in poverty, experience food insecurity, and live in crowded housing. Additionally, they are less likely than children of natives to receive public assistance or to have health insurance. In this project, investigators provide a comprehensive picture of the health of children of immigrants in comparison to children of natives using recent, nationally representative data.

Research Paper

Creating Ties for Mobility: The Role of Community Organizations for Immigrant Parents in Urban, Poor Neighborhoods
Dina Okamoto (Affiliate in Sociology) and Melanie J. Gast with graduate student researchers Valerie Feldman (Sociology) and Robin Savinar (Sociology)

Immigrants from Asia and Latin America are among the fastest growing populations in the U.S. These newcomers may not have kin as a source of social support due to family disruption during the migration process, or they may have network ties to friends and kin who do not possess the social and economic capital needed to help increase prospects for social mobility.  This project by Research Affiliate Dina Okamoto seeks to inform policymakers and practitioners about the issues and challenges that immigrant families face in poor, urban communities and the role that Community-Based Organizations play as possible mediators between government systems and immigrant families.

Immigration and the US Farm Labor Supply
J. Edward Taylor (Affiliate in Agricultural and Resource Economics), Stephen R. Boucher, Aaron Smith, Peri L. Fletcher and Antonio Yúnez-Naude

Around the globe, a growing number of countries are turning to immigration as a source of farm labor even as agriculture’s share of employment is falling. Immigrant farmworkers from Mexico are unquestionably one of the most critical inputs to U.S. agriculture; their availability affects production technologies and enhances the ability of U.S. producers to compete with low-cost producers abroad. Researchers analyze the sustainability of an agricultural system that depends on foreign sources of labor, and highlight the importance of labor productivity-enhancing technological change.

Research Paper Giovanni Peri

The Labor Market Effects of Immigrants on Native Poverty
Giovanni Peri (Affiliate in Economics)

The effects of immigration on low-skilled native workers in the U.S. is both an active area of research among academics and a critical component of policy discussions of the costs and benefits of immigration policies. In a new study, Research Affiliate Giovanni Peri quantifies the effects of immigration on wages and poverty rates of native workers in the U.S. over the past two decades.

Research Paper

The Effects of Community-based Organizations on Immigrant Youth Adjustment
Dina Okamoto (Affiliate in Sociology) with graduate student researchers Dan Herda (Sociology) and Cassie Hartzog (Sociology)

In this project, Research Affiliate Dina Okamoto extends prior research on immigrant youth adaptation by examining whether the presence of community-based organizations (CBOs) within neighborhoods serves to protect immigrant youth from risk behaviors.

Research Paper Gail Goodman

Spanish Language Learning Experiences Project
Gail Goodman (Affiliate in Psychology), Susan Hobbs and graduate researcher Jonni Johnson (Psychology)

The number of adults in the U. S. with learning problems range from 3-15% of the general population, and of those with learning problems, approximately 48% are out of the workforce or unemployed (National Institute for Literacy, 1999). Identifying and assessing these individuals is critical so that pre- and postemployment services can be tailored to their learning needs. To this end, Research Affiliate Gail Goodman and the Center for Public Policy Research (CPPR) at UC Davis, is developing a short screening measure for Spanish-speaking adult applicants for the Welfare-to-Work program to determine those at risk for learning problems. The entire project is expected to last approximately three years.