Alejandro Portes

University of Miami

Primary Section: 53, Social and Political Sciences
Membership Type: Member (elected 2000)

Research Interests

During the last decade or so I have pursued three major research activities. The first is the study of immigration and, in particular, the determinants of successful economic and social adaptation among second-generation youths in the United States. The second is the study of urbanization in less developed countries with an emphasis on the dynamics and effects of the urban informal economies. Informal activities occupy upwards of 80 percent of the population of poor nations, but their dynamics and their potential for growth are not well understood. A five-country comparative study of urbanization in the Caribbean basin conducted during the 1990s, yielded a book on these issues. More recently I have become interested in transnational communities created by large foreign populations in the developed world and consisting of a web of economic and political activities conducted across national borders. The phenomenon holds the potential of changing traditional patterns of immigrant assimilation and affecting significantly the economic prospects of sending areas. In 1998, I completed a survey to clarify the determinants and scope of transnational communities in the United States, and, with the support of several collaborators, I am currently analyzing the survey results.

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