Economics and Finance Faculty Publications and Presentations

The earnings of self-employed Mexican Americans along the U.S.-Mexico border

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We utilize data from the 1990 1% Public Use Microdata Sample to analyze the earnings and occupational status of self-employed Mexican Americans in the five major U.S.-Mexico border metropolitan statistical areas (Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo, and McAllen in Texas, and San Diego, California) relative to those in non-border cities. Our findings suggest that self-employed Mexican American men earned significantly less in Texas-Mexico border cities than in other areas on average, while the earnings of self-employed Mexican American women did not significantly vary between border and non-border cities. We also find evidence that these earnings differentials may be related to differences in self-employment selection and occupational choice. As such, “across the board” policies designed to foster self-employment may not have the desired effect of boosting economic prosperity unless consideration is given to the socioeconomic and demographic composition of the region as well as to the specific occupational sector.


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The Annals of Regional Science