Sociology Faculty Publications and Presentations

Race, Gender, and Nativity in the Southwest Economy: An Intersectional Approach to Income Inequality

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Economic inequality in the U.S. is significantly influenced by the integration trajectory of diverse immigrant and racial/ethnic minority groups. It is also increasingly clear that these processes are uniquely gendered. Few studies, however, jointly and systematically consider the complex ways in which race/ethnicity, gender, and nativity intersect to shape minority men’s and women’s economic experiences, and an intersectional understanding of these processes remains underdeveloped. To address this gap, we blend insights from assimilation, stratification, and intersectionality literatures to analyze 2015–2019 American Community Survey data. Specifically, we examine income inequality and group-level mobility among full-time working whites, Blacks, Native Americans, and Asian and Latino subgroups representative of the Southwest—the first U.S. region to reach a majority-minority demographic profile. Sociodemographic and human capital attributes generally reduce group-level income deficits, and we observe a robust pattern of economic mobility among native-born generations. But most groups remain decisively disadvantaged. Persistent income gaps signal multitiered racial/ethnic-gender hierarchies in the Southwest and suggest exclusion of minority men and women. Additionally, race/ethnicity and gender have an uneven impact on the relative position and progress observed among both U.S.- and foreign-born generations. Such findings support an intersectional approach and demonstrate the complex interplay of multiple axes of inequality that together shape contemporary U.S.- and foreign-born men’s and women’s economic experiences and returns.


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Popul Res Policy Rev