With guidance from faculty sponsor Robert S. Eckley Distinguished Professor of Economics
Mike Seeborg, Gustafson is asking the question: Do second generation Mexican immigrants
fare better in the labor market than their parents, and if so, why do they do better?
Using descriptive statistics and the results of multiple regressions, Gustafson plans
to compare the gaps in wages between first and second generation immigrants to the
native mean and explore the reasons for those gaps. Furthermore, he will explore analyzing
levels of human capital to see how rates of return on education or other investments
vary between first generation, second generation, and natives.
Gustafson hopes his research will help inform the policy discussions that relate to
the quantity and quality of education of immigrants and their children.
“We cannot know the full effect of immigrants on the economy without knowing how their
children, who would not be here if not for the first generation, do in the economy,”
Gustafson was inspired to undertake this project after taking the course “Labor Economics,”
which ignited his interest in this field of study.
“I applied for the research fund because I wanted to be able to engage in real-world,
hands-on research during my time at IWU,” Gustafson said. “I am considering a career
in researching economics, so this research would be an outstanding way to jumpstart
myself with the guidance of a veteran in the field like Professor Seeborg.
“My experience thus far at Illinois Wesleyan has sufficiently prepared me to undergo
this research through the combination of liberal arts classes I've taken along with
my Economics major,” Gustafson continued. “Writing research papers and giving presentations
in classes such as “Sitcoms and Society” with (R. Forrest Colwell Endowed Chair of
English and Professor of English) James Plath and “Introduction to Japanese History”
with (Professor of History) Thomas Lutze have honed my writing and oral skills to
a level that I am comfortable undergoing this research, writing the paper and presenting
In 2013, Mark A. Israel, ’91 established the Mark A. Israel ‘91 Endowed Summer Research
Fund in Economics to provide a generous stipend and expense allowance to a student
wishing to collaborate closely with a faculty member in IWU’s Department of Economics.
“I would like to express my dear gratitude to Dr. Israel for funding this wonderful
opportunity,” Gustafson said. “I am very much looking forward to the experience.”