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Heflin paper on material hardship among immigrants in the US published in PR&PR

May 2, 2020

The Material Hardships of Undocumented Immigrants in the United States: Evidence from SIPP 1996-2008

Claire Altman, Colleen Heflin, Chaegyung Jun & James Bachmeier

Population Research and Policy Review, May 2020

Colleen Heflin

Colleen Heflin

Previous literature has explored different dimensions of immigrant incorporation; however, no extant literature describes the extent to which migration status is associated with a comprehensive set of material hardship dimensions. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) spanning more than a decade (1996–2008), the authors assess material hardship among the foreign-born by migration status, a unique contribution of this data. Trends over the study period reflect the persistent migration status gradient in material hardship. Multivariate models point to three important findings.

First, unauthorized and legally resident non-citizens had significantly increased odds of hardship compared to the naturalized. Second, the magnitude of the migration status-hardship association varied depending on hardship with naturalized citizens generally having lower odds of each form of hardship than unauthorized and legally resident non-citizens. Finally, patterns of material hardship by U.S. duration were not uniform. For example, for utility hardships, the unauthorized with 10 or more years of U.S. duration have higher predicted probabilities than unauthorized of shorter durations.

The results highlight the challenges of the immigrant experience in America for recent arrivals, the unauthorized, for legal immigrants, and immigrants who have resided in the U.S. for more than 10 years.