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Destination Choices of the 1985-90 Young Adult Immigrants to the United States: Importance of Race, Educational Attainment, and Labour Market Forces

Publication Abstract

Liaw, Kao-Lee, and William H. Frey. 1998. "Destination Choices of the 1985-90 Young Adult Immigrants to the United States: Importance of Race, Educational Attainment, and Labour Market Forces." International Journal of Population Geography, 4(1): 49-61.

The continued concentration of immigrants into a select number of port-of-entry states has focused both the benefits and burdens of immigration on their residents and local governments. The fact that immigrants concentrate in these areas at the same time as domestic migrants are relocating elsewhere suggests that conventional labour market forces play a lesser role than ethnic ties in affecting immigrants' initial destination choices. This paper investigates the relative roles of conventional labour market forces and proxies for ethnic ties in explaining the destination choices of 1985-90 young adult immigrants, based on data from the 1990 census. We find that the destination choices of recent immigrants are more strongly influenced by the race-ethnic composition of a state than by more conventional labour market attributes. This is especially the case for blacks and Hispanics who showed the highest concentration in their destination selections, and least so for whites whose destinations were most dispersed. We also found that immigrants with less than high school education were most subject to the pull of race-ethnic similarity, were least attracted by the states with low unemployment, and had the most concentrated destination selections within each race-ethnic group. The latter finding suggests that an immigration policy that gives greater preference to immigrant skill levels would lead to a more widespread dispersal of immigrants across states.

Dataset(s): 1990 U.S. Census.

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