Hispanic Population Growth and Rural Income Inequality

Emilio A. Parrado, Duke University
William A. Kandel, U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA)

Recent Hispanic population growth may substantially alter income inequality in rural areas because rural Hispanics are often relatively young, less educated, lack U.S. experience, and work in low-skilled and low-paying jobs. We examine the impact of rural Hispanic population growth on income inequality in nonmetro counties from 1990 to 2000. We model income inequality as a function of economic and demographic variables using county-level decennial census data and OLS regression. Results document higher increases in inequality among rapid growth Hispanic counties relative to low growth counties. However, this growing inequality is explained mostly by typical educational and industrial changes. When compared across counties, rapidly growing Hispanic counties behave similar to other rapidly growing non-Hispanic counties. Rather than something unique to Hispanic groups, changes that these counties experienced appear part of broader processes of educational and industrial change that resemble those occurring in other rapidly growing rural counties without Hispanic in-migration.

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Presented in Session 122: Race/Ethnicity and Social and Economic Inequality