Rational choice among Koreans immigrants and Mexican Americans in South Texas

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Ramon Guerra


The immigration of Koreans into the United States has been steady since
changes in the immigration policies beginning in the middle of the 1960s. Most literature on the Korean immigrants centers on their social and economic adaptation to American urban life and their strained relations with African Americans. This paper examines the Koreans in a predominantly rural South Texas community and their relations with Mexican Americans. Rational choice theory best explains why
the Koreans immigrated to a destination to which they have traditionally avoided. For the Korean immigrants it was simply weighing the advantages against the disadvantages. The Mexican origin population, which comprises more than 80 percent of the population has suffered endemic unemployment and extreme poverty. For the Koreans this population is essential because it will always provide a large pool of cheap labor. Since Koreans are engaged in small business, labor cost increases would be detrimental to their economic viability. What could be perceived as exploitation by some is the only way small business entrepreneurs
can survive.

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