"School or Work" or "School and Work"? Enrollment and Intergenerational Variation in Work Activity among Mexican-Origin Adolescents

James D. Bachmeier, University of California, Irvine
Frank D. Bean, University of California, Irvine

We compare patterns of school enrollment and labor force participation across four generational groups of Mexican-origin adolescents. Consistent with a perspective viewing the school and work orientations of early-generation Mexican-origin youths as influenced by a culture of labor migration, we find that school enrollment and labor force participation tend to be more mutually-exclusive among these youths, as compared with their later-generation counterparts. Early-generation Mexican-origin youth are less likely to pursue school and labor force participation simultaneously. Those not enrolled in school tend to participate in the labor force to a greater extent and work more intensively than their later-generation counterparts. By contrast, those enrolled in school are less likely to participate in the labor force and work less intensively. We argue that these findings carry implications for contemporary perspectives of immigrant incorporation and for research on racial/ethnic differences in adolescent school enrollment and labor force participation.

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Presented in Session 156: Immigrant Generations