Using representative national surveys, this paper compares economic outcomes among Latin American migrants to Spain and the United States in the first cross-national comparison using quantitative data. Considering the geographic location and social proximity of each country with respect to Latin America, we detect a critical selection effect whereby the majority of Latin American migrants to Spain originate in South America from middle class backgrounds, whereas most migrants to the United States are Central Americans of lower class origins. This selection effect accounts for cross-national differences in the probability of employment, occupational attainment, and wages earned. Despite differences in the origins and characteristics of Latino immigrants to each country, demographic and human and social capital factors appear to operate similarly in both places; and when models are estimated separately by legal status, we find that effects are more accentuated for undocumented compared with documented migrants, especially in the United States.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)