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Beyond Gateway Cities: Economic Restructuring and Poverty Among Mexican Immigrant Families and Children*


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    A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the annual meetings of the Southern Demographic Association, Hilton Head, North Carolina, October 2004. Support for this research was provided by a Population Center grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1 R21 HD047943-01) to Ohio State’s Initiative in Population Research and by a research grant (1 R01 HD43035-01) to Z.Q., principal investigator.

**Martha Crowley is an Assistant Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, at the North Carolina State University, Campus Box 8107, Raleigh, NC 27695 (

Daniel T. Lichter is a Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Ferris Family Professor of Life Course Studies, and Director of the Bronfenbrenner Life Course Center at Cornell University, 102 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853 (

Zhenchao Qian is an Associate Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Associate at the Initiative in Population Research, 190 North Oval Mall, Bricker Hall Room 300, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210 (


Abstract: We used data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Samples to document poverty rates among native-born and foreign-born Mexicans living in the southwest and in new regions where many Mexican families have resettled. Our analysis focused on how changing patterns of employment have altered the risk of poverty among Mexican families and children. We demonstrate that the Mexican population dispersed widely throughout the United States during the 1990s and that Mexican workers, especially immigrants, residing outside the southwest had much lower rates of poverty. Yet, a rapid influx of Mexican immigrants is putting strain on communities struggling to meet their needs. We offer suggestions for family practitioners serving Mexican newcomers, whose circumstances differ greatly from those of local populations.