Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2005


Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 15, No. 1, 2005. Copyright © 2005 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Much of the research on Mexican Americans and earnings has focused on either national samples or on states such as California and Texas. Even though Mexican Americans have become more visible in the Midwest, we know very little about their earnings in the Midwest. Using an individual level sample consisting of data on 1,807 Mexican Americans from the 2000 Integrated 1% Public Use Microdata Series, we examine the extent to which human capital, family status and industry concentration predict earnings. Multivariate analyses reveal that education and years in the U.S. are positively associated with earnings. However, Mexican American women yield lower returns to their education compared to their male counterparts. Women also experience an earnings penalty for having children while men do not. In addition, workers concentrated in the peripheral sector earn significantly less than workers in the core sector. The findings are interpreted in terms of human capital and labor market theories and directions for future research are discussed.