20 Int'l Migration Rev. 4 (1986)

handle is hein.journals/imgratv20 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Immigrant Economic Adjustment and

Family Organization: The Cuban

Success Story Reexamined


Lisandro Perez
Florida International University

     The  economic adjustment of Cuban-origin persons in the U.S. has been
     traditionally analyzed at two levels: the individual and the community
     (enclave). The analysis presented here represents a complementary ap-
     proach at the household level. Data from the 1980 U.S. Census show
     that the relatively successful economic adjustment of Cubans is largely
     a family, rather than individual, phenomenon. The data also permit an
     identification of the structural features of the Cuban-origin family that
     facilitate economic adjustment. The results have special implications for
     the study of the labor-force experience of Cuban women and their role
     within the enclave economy.

Economic  adjustment has long been a central concern in much of the litera-
ture on postrevolutionary Cuban migration to the United States. Cubans are
frequently regarded as the modern prototypes of the economically-successful
immigrant, examples that the American dream of upward mobility and eco-
nomic prosperity is alive and well among today's immigrants (Perez, 1976:1-
3).
   Such a view is not without some basis in fact. Research has tended to verify
the Cubans' relative success, especially in comparison with other Hispanic
groups in the U.S. (Prohias and Casal, 1973:58-61; Stevenson, 1973:85-91;
Diaz, 1980:51-2; Rogg and Cooney, 1980; Jaffe, Cullen, and Boswell, 1980;
Borjas, 1982). Although the popular media has usually based claims of success
on atypical individual cases of skyrocketing upward mobility, the social-sci-
entific literature has used somewhat more representative data (Table 1). These
figures indicate that for literally every measure of family income, Cubans
evidence levels superior to the Spanish-origin population -levels that are only
slightly below the corresponding measure for the total U.S. population. There
is, in other words, a greater gap between the Spanish-origin population and
the Cubans than between the latter and the total U.S. population, despite the
fact that the Cuban-origin population of the U.S. is composed primarily of
immigrants: three-fourths of the 803,226 persons of Cuban origin living in the
U.S. in 1980 were born in Cuba (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983b:17).


4    IMR  Volume  xx, No. 1

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