How the Link Between Social Capital and Migratory Duration Helps Us Understand Immigrant–Native Inequality

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Social Science Quarterly


Objective: In the aggregate, people are socioeconomic indicators who are better off in high social capital environments. But the gap between natives and immigrants is large in these same areas. In this article, we offer an alternative argument for the effect of social capital on inequality between immigrants and natives. Methods: We use a duration modeling analysis of data on migratory stays supplied by the Mexican Migration Project to link social capital to immigration trends. Results: We suggest that social capital may be reducing equality for benign reasons and show that social capital is a resource that mostly benefits unauthorized immigrants in punitive policy environments. Unauthorized immigrants are encouraged to settle in high social capital states to gain access to these resources. This group tends to be less assimilated and possesses few socioeconomic resources. Conclusion: High social capital states are unequal not because social capital produces inequality but because it is valued by immigrants who are faring poorly. The most vulnerable immigrants benefit the most from living in places where social networks and feelings of generalized trust are strong.



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