Immigration & Poverty

Overview

Immigration & 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-traditional Safety Net hold questions that are unique to the immigrant experience.

See below for more information on research projects and other resources related to this topic.

Overview

Research on 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 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?

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.

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.

Overview

Policy Briefs on Immigration & Poverty

These briefs are short and informative analyses of our research relating to poverty policies. Policy Briefs deliver our cutting-edge research directly to policy makers, researchers, and stakeholders in an accessible format. 

African Immigrants Experience Prejudice and Limited Mobility in Low-wage Health Care Jobs
By Yolanda Covington-Ward, University of Pittsburgh

Direct health care support and personal care jobs have the largest projected growth in the next decade. Immigrants make up growing percentages of workers in these fields, and having a better understanding of their range of experiences in these occupations will help attract and retain them. My new research finds that African immigrant direct health care workers often experience prejudice based on both their race and African backgrounds. They also see their jobs as lacking opportunities for advancement, and often struggle to meet basic needs with their incomes.

Supporting Motherhood Capital Could Benefit Children
By Ming-Cheng Lo, UC Davis

In the U.S., low-income immigrants are disproportionately excluded from social services. Even those who have gained formal access must often overcome informal institutional barriers. In a new study, I interviewed low-income Mexican immigrant mothers with limited English skills to understand these informal barriers in education and healthcare settings as they advocated on behalf of their children. The study suggests that mothers are most effective in a less bureaucratized setting and when staff recognize how deeply they care for and understand their children.

Reducing the Impact of Valley Fever in Low-income Communities
By Sarah M. Rios, University of California, Santa Barbara

California health advocates are increasingly aware of the hazards of Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis), a disease caused by a fungus spore living in semi-arid regions of the west and southwest U.S. California has the most associated deaths despite only representing about 31 percent of all U.S. cases.[1] Policy makers can reduce its impact on low-income communities and save millions of dollars in treatment each year by addressing the circumstances of infection, as well as the difficulties low-income populations face in accessing care.

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