Racial identity and the spatial assimilation of Mexicans in the United States

Douglas S. Massey, Nancy A. Denton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Mexico's national ideology holds that Mexicans are mestizos, a racially mixed group created by the union of Europeans and Indians. When Mexicans migrate to the United States, this mixed racial identity comes into conflict with Anglo-American norms that view race dichotomously, as Indian or white but not both. In this paper we examine the process of ideological assimilation by which Mexicans in the United States shift their identities from mestizo to white, and then measure the effect that race has on the level of residential segregation from non-Hispanic whites. Although residential barriers are not as severe for mestizos as for Hispanics of African heritage, we find that mestizos are significantly less likely than white Mexicans to achieve suburban residence and that this fact, in turn, lowers their probability of contact with non-Hispanic whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-260
Number of pages26
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Racial identity and the spatial assimilation of Mexicans in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this