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The Immigrants Odds of Slipping into Poverty during Business Cycles: Double Jeopardy?

Kim, Jongsung and Tebaldi, Edinaldo (2009): The Immigrants Odds of Slipping into Poverty during Business Cycles: Double Jeopardy?

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Abstract

This paper makes an empirical contribution in unraveling the argument that immigration is either the sole or even the most important factor behind the U.S. poverty. While this argument is understandable, the blame is misplaced. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we show that between 1994 and 2008 the national poverty rate of immigrants fell three times faster than that of natives (5.4 compared to 1.8 percentage points). The poverty rate of recent immigrants (those in the United States for less than 10 years) fell even faster at almost six times faster than that of natives (10.7 compared to 1.8 percentage points). The empirical analysis of this paper shows that the odds of experiencing poverty for both natives and immigrants depend on micro factors such as individual characteristics and macro factors such as business cycle in the U.S. economy.

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