This study examines how race and generational status shape self-employment propensities and industry-sector prestige among the self-employed in the U.S. 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) offering 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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)