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Journal Article

Job Transitions in an Immigrant Metropolis: Ethnic Boundaries and the Mixed Economy

Victor Nee, Jimy M. Sanders and Scott Sernau
American Sociological Review
Vol. 59, No. 6 (Dec., 1994), pp. 849-872
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096372
Page Count: 24
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Job Transitions in an Immigrant Metropolis: Ethnic Boundaries and the Mixed Economy
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Abstract

We examine the job transitions of Asian immigrants in the metropolitan economy of Los Angeles. In such ethnically heterogeneous cities, ethnic boundaries are porous and are mediated by an intermediate mixed economy. Ethnographic interviews reveal that many immigrants prefer jobs outside the ethnic economy to obtain higher wages and fairer work rules. Multivariate analyses find that, across a succession of jobs and over time, immigrants tend to drift away from the more informal ethnic economy of the metropolis, a move that leads to higher earnings. The use of ethnic ties to locate jobs also declines. The main attraction of participation in the ethnic economy is the opportunity for self-employment. Our model of the immigrant labor market moves beyond the dualist representation of the ethnic enclave economy. We conceive of the metropolitan labor market as shaped by firm size, degree of bureaucratization, and governance structure in which interethnic economic transactions are mediated through a growing mixed economy.

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