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Socioeconomic Achievement Among Arab Immigrants in the USA: The Influence of Region of Origin and Gender

Abstract

Based on the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) data derived from 2001–2013 samples of the American Community Surveys, we examine the impact of region of origin and gender on socioeconomic achievement variation among Arab immigrants in the USA. Region of origin includes North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Sudan), Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq), and the Arabian Peninsula (Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen). This examination is particularly important given the prevailing scholarly consensus that Arab immigrants are collectively portrayed as socioeconomically successful. Our analyses suggest two key findings. First, we find that region of origin is not a consistent predictor of earnings. While Arab immigrants from North Africa earned significantly less than those from the Levant, this was only true for males. No significant effect is found for region of origin in all other comparisons (both overall and when the analysis is restricted to males or females). Second, and by contrast, gender, net of other variables is a powerful predictor of earnings (both within regions and across regions).

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the University of Minnesota, and the National Institutes of Health, the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) are nationally representative samples of US Census data specifically compiled and made available for social and economic research. For a complete description of the IPUMS datasets (including sample and variable descriptions, data compilation and storage), see the IPUMS website at <http://www.ipums.org.

  2. The estimation of the number of years of schooling—follows Kalmijn’s (1996) formulation, where kindergarten is estimated to equal to 0 years of schooling, grades 1 to 4 equals to 2.5 years, grades 5 to 8 equals to 6.5 years, grade 9 equals to 9 years, grade 10 equals to 10 years, grade 11 equals to 11 years, grade 12 and high school graduates equals to 12 years, partial college and associate degree in an occupational program translates to 13 years, associate degree in an academic program translates to 14.5 years, bachelor’s degree equals to 16 years, master’s degree translates to 18 years, and professional and doctorate degrees translate to 22 years.

  3. English proficiency or the ability to understand and speak English well varies across immigrant groups. It should be noted that this variable is self-reported in the census documents; thus, it is a subjective measure of the ability to understand and speak the English language well.

  4. The names for these variables in the IPUMS dataset are as follows: marital status = marst, occupation = occ, region = region, educational attainment = educd, English language proficiency = speaking, and citizenship status = citizen.

  5. We ran separate within-region analysis (results not reported in Table 3), and those analyses reveal similar findings. The within region results of model 3 show females from North Africa, the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula to have earned about 17, 29, and 29%, respectively, less than their male counterparts (For north Africa, B = 0.173, STD = 0.024, p < 0.0001; for the Levant, B = 0.2894, STD = 0.023, p < 0.0001; for the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf, B = 0.287, STD = 0.065, p < 0.0001).

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Kusow, A.M., Ajrouch, K.J. & Corra, M. Socioeconomic Achievement Among Arab Immigrants in the USA: The Influence of Region of Origin and Gender. Int. Migration & Integration 19, 111–127 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-017-0524-2

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Keywords

  • Arab immigrants
  • Earnings
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic achievement
  • Intra-Arab comparison