Three years later: the adaptation process of 1980 (Mariel) Cuban and Haitian refugees in South Florida

Alejandro Portes, Alex Stepick, Cynthia Truelove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In recent years, southern Florida has experienced rapid new inflows of immigrants from Central America and the Caribbean. Since the arrival in 1980 of Mariel (Cuban) and Haitian immigrants to this area, a great deal of speculation has emerged as to the adaptation of these two groups to south Florida and the impact which their presence has wielded on the social and economic arenas of that region. In this paper, we present selected background characteristics of representative samples of both groups and discuss our empirical findings with regard to the labor market experiences, social networks, and educational experiences of the immigrants included in our sample. While the two groups minimally differ from earlier cohorts of their compatriots entering south Florida, their experiences since arriving in Florida have been quite different. Both the Cuban and Haitian immigrants arriving in 1980 demonstrate higher levels of unemployment than their counterparts who arrived earlier; however, the existence of the Cuban economic enclave in Miami did facilitate the entry of a greater number of Cubans than Haitians into the formal labor market. Initial evidence indicates that significant numbers of individuals from both groups participate in the informal labor market, often receiving less than the minimum wage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-94
Number of pages12
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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