Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 31–65 | Cite as

Testing the acculturation of the 1.5 generation in the United States: Is there a “critical” age of migration?

  • Marina GindelskyEmail author


Existing research shows that on average first-generation immigrants earn less than native-born workers in the United States, especially during their first decade in the country, but eventually overtake the native-born; second-generation immigrants (2g) tend to earn more than subsequent generations (3+g). However, the labor market outcomes of the “1.5 generation” (1.5g), the foreign born who migrate as children, have not been thoroughly analyzed. This paper hypothesizes that the 1.5g could have an earnings advantage relative to subsequent generations due to the higher ability of their parents; however, the accumulation of destination-specific human capital (i.e., acculturation) also declines with age at migration (AAM). Using a Mincerian earnings regression as applied to CPS data (1994–2016), this analysis tests whether there is a within-group “critical” AAM threshold after which the earnings advantage of the 1.5g becomes an earnings disadvantage. Results show that this threshold is approximately ages 5–9, varying by ethnicity and gender.


1.5 Generation Immigrant children Immigrants Second generation Age at migration Acculturation 

JEL Classification

J15 J24 J31 Z13 



The author would like to thank two anonymous referees, Barry R. Chiswick, Carmel Chiswick, Tara Sinclair, Scott Wentland, Ben Bridgman, and seminar audiences at George Washington University, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau of Economic AnalysisSuitlandUSA

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