The Shaping of Selection: Secondary Migration, Scale, and Changing Immigrant Geographies

The internal migration and settlement patterns of immigrants have long been of interest

in assessing immigrant outcomes. I use the 1940, 1970, and 2000 IPUMS to analyze the

changing relationships between secondary migration, immigrant concentration, and

earnings outcomes. The endogenous switching models employed explicitly relate the

sorting of individual and metro characteristics to secondary migration through selection.

Investigating how these relationships change over time and between generations, as well

as the differing relevance of overall mobility and inter-county migration, contributes to

theoretical perspectives on spatial assimilation and secondary migration. Results show

that immigrant concentration is positively associated with wage outcomes for movers,

although remaining in immigrant concentrations can have negative effects. Effects are

more significant for those undertaking larger-scale moves, and more consistent over

time. Women and less-educated individuals who move have reduced wage disadvantages

relative to men and more-educated individuals. These findings suggest that it may be

useful to think about migration as a strategy through which immigrants respond to

vulnerability, and that the advantages or disadvantages of immigrant context are related

to migration selection. The addition of city characteristics experienced by a previous

immigrant generation in situ suggests that the salience of immigrant geography emerges

over time, as metros with high immigrant wages and educational levels continue to

attract immigrants and their offspring decades later.