Reconsidering the Spatial Assimilation Model for Mexican Americans: What Is the Effect of Regional Patterns of Cohort Succession?
Karl Eschbach, University of Texas Medical Branch
Kushang V. Patel, University of Texas Medical Branch
Accounts of Mexican immigration to the United States emphasize the applicability of the spatial assimilation model to this population, whereby immigrants initially locate in immigrant barrios, and then convert acculturation and economic mobility to more dispersed and higher status neighborhoods. This account should be qualified by the regional patterns of Mexican American settlement in the United States. We use Census summary files and micro data files to explore the relationship between regional settlement patterns and measures of spatial assimilation for Mexican Americans. Although within-area data confirm the spatial assimilation model, the interplay between nativity status, time since immigration, and region of residence requires significant qualification of the model. Natives and early arrivers are more concentrated in low-mobility areas near to the Mexico border, while later arrivers are more spatially assimilated on a regional basis. These regional patterns affect patterns of spatial assimilation measured at the tract level.