Beyond Typologies: A Multilevel Approach to Understanding the Impact of Destinations on Immigrant Outcomes
Elizabeth S. Ackert, University of Washington
Immigrant destination typologies are increasingly used to compare immigrant outcomes across geographic areas. Results from analyses that use destination typologies, however, are sensitive to the choice of criteria that defines destination types, as well as to variations in the geographic unit of analysis. Destination categories may also mask important sources of intra-destination heterogeneity. I argue that the study of immigrant destinations could benefit from the use of multilevel modeling. Multilevel models allow researchers to examine how individual and place-level characteristics shape variations in outcomes across immigrant-receiving areas. To demonstrate the utility of this approach, I use the 2005-2009 American Community Survey to examine patterns of school non-enrollment among Mexican origin 15-17 year-olds across U.S. states. My models assess how individual and state-level factors produce between-state variation in the likelihood of Mexican origin non-enrollment. I argue that this modeling technique can inform the future study of immigrant outcomes across destinations.