This study examines how race and generational status shape self-employment propensities and industry-sector prestige among the self-employed in the United States. It draws on theories of assimilation, racialization and a combined framework, racialized incorporation, to guide the analysis and interpret the results. It uses data from the U.S. March Current Population Survey (2000-2010) and is the first nationally representative examination of second-generation self-employment in the U.S. This study investigates three questions. First, do the odds of being self-employed decline in the second and third generations? Second, do generational patterns in self-employment propensities vary by race? And finally, do race and generational status affect the odds of being self-employed in low-, medium- and high-prestige industry sectors? Results offer some support for the assimilation perspective: immigrants are generally more likely than third-generation groups to be self-employed with the exception of Asians, where second-generation Asians have the greatest odds of being self-employed. However, results also reveal that generational patterns in self-employment propensities vary by race and industry-sector prestige. Accordingly, first and second-generation Whites have the greatest odds of being self-employed (across all levels of industry-sector prestige), and third-generation Whites are more likely than all generations of Blacks and Hispanics to be engaged in high- prestige self-employment. These findings suggest that immigrants, their offspring and native-born groups undergo a racialized incorporation in which self-employment is organized along hierarchical and racial lines associated with uneven levels of prestige.
Sociology, UC Davis
Ali Chaudhary is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at UC Davis. His research interests lie at the intersection of international migration, race-ethnic studies, political & economic sociology and organization studies. His current research consists of four projects related to the incorporation of immigrants and ethnic-racial minorities.