Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States

Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States
By: Jacob L. Vidgor
Source: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

From the Executive Summary:

The year 2007 marked an economic turning point in the United States. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s economic output peaked late in the year and then began to contract. This development affected immigration in two important ways: immigrants began arriving in fewer numbers than they have since the 1960s; and those immigrants who not only arrived but stayed fell further behind the native-born population economically. Economic assimilation declined even among immigrants who arrived more than a decade ago, indicating that differences between that cohort and the native-born population widened.

This report, the second in an ongoing series, takes advantage of newly released U.S. Census Bureau data from 2007 to measure changes in an index describing the state of economic, civic, and cultural assimilation of immigrants to the United States. It also explores in detail two of the factors used to compute the index: immigrants’ English-language ability and naturalization rates, both of which have been affected by the reduced inflow and increased outflow of recent immigrants. Because legal adult immigrants who have been here less than five years cannot become citizens and are unlikely to have mastered English in so short a period, the economic downturn is having an effect on all three assimilation indexes: economic, of course; but also cultural assimilation, of which English skills are an important component; and civic assimilation, of which citizenship is an important component.

Full report (PDF)

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