Searching for the family legal status of Mexican-origin children: a primer on different measurement strategies

Sal Oropesa, Pennsylvania State University
Nancy S. Landale, Pennsylvania State University
Marianne M. Hillemeier, Pennsylvania State University

Interest in the consequences of family legal status for children has grown in response to immigration-related changes in the ethnic composition of American society. This topic is especially relevant for the burgeoning Mexican-origin child population, but there has been little empirical attention to the implications of family legal status for this group. Using restricted data from the California Health Interview Survey (2009), this study evaluates strategies that have been used in various fields to describe family legal status. We demonstrate the implications of different strategies for estimating the size of vulnerable segments of the Mexican-origin child population and their risks of living in poverty. The results are instructive for researchers in suggesting that various “combinatorial” strategies are unnecessarily reductionist and rely on untenable assumptions that can be avoided with more parsimonious approaches.

Presented in Poster Session 1