How Do Current Immigrants Assimilate Into American Culture

What Does It Take to ‘Assimilate’ in America? (Published 2017)

As one of my seatmates put it, “the problem is that they do not assimilate.” At almost 30,000 feet in the air, over an hour from our destination, I was beginning to question the direction our talk had taken. It all began off as harmless small conversation. He informed me that he ran a butcher shop in Gardena, about 15 miles south of Los Angeles, but that he was thinking about retiring from the business. I was familiar with the region because I had lived there during my graduate school years, but I hadn’t been in several years.

Normally, my first inclination would have been to return to the novel I was currently reading, but it had only been two months after the election, and I was still trying to make sense of what was going on in the country for myself.

It is on Sundays that parents send their children to the school so that they might learn Korean.

The term’s origins may be traced back to the Latin word “simulare,” which means to create similar.

  • After all, Americans have always been a diverse group of people – whether in terms of race, religion, or geographic location.
  • In the case of some, pragmatic concerns such as acquiring some level of fluency in the main language, some level of educational or economic achievement, and some level of knowledge with the country’s history and culture are important.
  • Others, however, believe that the concept of assimilation is misguided, and that integration — a dynamic process that preserves the connotation of individuality — is a superior model.
  • Regardless of whatever model they choose, Americans are proud of their heritage as an immigrant-rich society.
  • One of our country’s most treasured myths is the notion that, no matter where you come from, you can achieve success if you put in the effort necessary.
  • During the 1890s, this journal published an article indicating that while “the red and black integrate” in New York, “the Chinaman does not,” as the title of the piece said.
  • At various points in history, the United States has blocked or restricted the entry of Chinese, Italian, Irish, Jewish, and, most recently, Muslim immigrants to the country.

In this day and age, the pendulum between optimism and fear continues to swing.

In 2015, Hillary Clinton spoke at an immigration-advocacy conference in New York City.

One of these assimilationist ideologies was victorious in a vote held in November.

They are significantly less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes.

In Michigan, an Indian-American emergency-room doctor who is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a Shiite Muslim sect, has been accused of conducting female genital mutilation on multiple young girls, according to authorities.

As soon as they occurred, the radical right pounced on them as proof of Muslims’ incompetence — or reluctance — to adapt into society.

(According to the police, they issued citations where necessary.) “The gang doesn’t appear to be interested in integrating,” says the author.

In this case, you have to presume that it’s a statement.

Some of the most important beliefs held by those who feel that assimilation is a matter of principle include a belief in the Constitution and the rule of law; in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; as well as a strong work ethic and equality.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has approved a new legislation that enhances the penalty for anyone who conduct female genital mutilation on minors, in addition to current sanctions.

“The hijab is not something that should ever be seen on American women,” Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right journalist who is himself an immigrant, said in January to a gathering of students at a university in Pennsylvania.

Several states have introduced anti-Shariah legislation out of concern that Muslims may attempt to impose their own Islamic rules on unwary citizens of the United States of America.

It is no longer regarded as a fanciful notion: In an interview with a reporter, white supremacist Richard Spencer said that he had formerly formed a friendship with Stephen Miller, who is now a key White House advisor, amid fears that immigrants from non-European countries were not integrating.

When it comes to undocumented immigration, most people are concerned about competition for employment or the use of public resources, but when it comes to assimilation, people are more concerned with identity, which is a hazy combination of race, religion, and language.

My airplane seatmate was a small-business owner, but he did not appear to be concerned about Korean-Americans taking away his customers; instead, he appeared to be more irritated by the fact that their children studied two languages, or that his community had store signs and church marquees written in an alphabet he could not read.

By now, it should be evident that assimilation is largely motivated by a desire for dominance.

Even if they do get familiar with the habits and language of a nation, they are not considered to have “assimilated”; instead, they are said to have “gone native.” Politicians in France, on the other hand, frequently express displeasure with the fact that people descended from North African immigrants choose halal food alternatives for school meals or want to attend courses while wearing head scarves.

One consequence is a constant sense of rejection, which only serves to make integration even more difficult.

It has a long and successful history of integrating its immigrants, despite the fact that each new generation believes the obstacles it encounters are unique and unusual in their own country.

Patrick’s Day without giving much thought to those periods. Given the lack of a standardized method of assessing assimilation, many individuals end up throwing their hands in the air and declaring, “I’ll know it when I see it.” The question is, who is making the decisions in this situation?

Assimilation Today

Take a look at the report (pdf) Download the executive summary in PDF format (pdf) Download “quick facts” on the newest immigrants to the United States (pdf) Download the “datos rápidos” (rapid updates) in Spanish (pdf) Download the report to your mobile device or e-reader of choice. The story of immigration in our country is one of newcomers assimilating into our society and subsequently contributing to the strengthening of our culture and, in particular, our economy. The longer immigrants have been in the United States, the more “they” become “us,” and the more “us” they become.

  • Soccer has risen to become a national sport, at least among young people, and millions of sports fans support the hundreds of immigrants who play in Major League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League.
  • Our past, on the other hand, teaches us differently.
  • To assess how effectively the immigration process is functioning for today’s immigrants, we used the most extensive survey data available from the United States Census Bureau.
  • The appearance of nonassimilation is established by focusing solely on recent arrivals who have not yet had the opportunity to integrate to the same extent as previous arrivals.
  • The outcomes are unmistakably evident.
  • In terms of assimilation, we use benchmarks that we know from our history to be reliable indicators, such as:
  • Citizenship, home ownership, English language fluency, job position, and earning a higher salary are all important factors to consider.

These standards illustrate that immigrants who have arrived in our nation since 1990 have made significant progress, regardless of their social and economic standing 20 years ago. The fastest rate of integration is being achieved in the areas of citizenship and homeownership, with high school graduation and incomes also on the rise in recent years. The fastest rate of integration is being achieved in the areas of citizenship and homeownership, with high school graduation and incomes also on the rise in recent years.

  • In addition, Latino immigrants who arrived in the United States within the first 18 years of residence achieved the hallmark of the “American Dream”—homeownership—with 58 percent accomplishing this goal in 2008, compared to only 9.3 percent in 1990.
  • Homeownership rates for Latinos and other foreign-born immigrants climb as their time in the United States increases, despite the fact that they are lower than the 66.6 percent homeownership rate for non-Hispanic native-born men.
  • Since 2000, the percentage of college graduation among immigrants has also increased, suggesting that immigrant children are more equipped to pursue possibilities for scholastic progress than their nonimmigrant peers.
  • This is due to a variety of factors, including their employment and income status, as well as the fact that language classes are not evenly distributed across all states and have lost funding in recent years.
  • Even from a geographical standpoint, our nation’s newest immigrants are following in the footsteps of our forefathers and foremothers, dispersing across the country to integrate in towns large and small.
  • Immigrant populations that have just recently arrived (since 2000) in new localities are represented by at least two percent of the population in 27 states, which reflects the flow of immigrants into new towns.
  • More “new” immigrants live in new destination states such as Georgia and North Carolina than immigrants who entered in the country before to 1990.

In the United States, as long as immigrants remain in the country, the more integrated they become—a trend that holds true across the country, regardless of whether they arrived from Mexico and Central America or from other nations.

After 18 years of residency in the United States, 66.6 percent are homeowners, 59.2 percent are fluent in English, and 57.9 percent earn more than the federal poverty level.

One explanation is that the number of new immigrants rose in a very short period of time, although assimilation, by definition, can only be detected over time span.

There is a widespread, but mostly unacknowledged, belief in the United States that “immigrants are like Peter Pan—forever stuck in their status as strangers.people who eternally resemble newcomers,” according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

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President John F.

According to him, immigration “provided every old American with a yardstick by which to measure how far he had come and every new American with an understanding of how far he could go.” It served as a timely reminder to all Americans, old and young, that change is the essence of life and that American society is a process rather than a destination.

The longer immigrants remain in the United States, the more they integrate, resulting in even higher levels of accomplishment for their children and planting the seeds of progress for future generations of immigrants.

Take a look at the report (pdf) Download the executive summary in PDF format (pdf) Download “quick facts” on the newest immigrants to the United States (pdf) Download the “datos rápidos” (rapid updates) in Spanish (pdf) Download the report to your mobile device or e-reader of choice.

Are Immigrants To The U.S. Assimilating As Fast As They Once Did?

In this July 3, 2018 photo taken at the New York Public Library, Mosammat Rasheda Akter, originally from Bangladesh, carries her 7-month-old baby Fahmida as she waits to formally become a United States citizen during a naturalization ceremony at the New York Public Library in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Drew Angerer/Getty Images) The assimilation rate of immigrants to the United States remains at the same level as it was in the past. During this session, we’ll delve into the cutting-edge research of two economic historians and explain what it all means in detail.


The author, Leah Boustan, is a Princeton University professor of economics. At the National Bureau of Economic Research, he is a co-director of the Development of the American Economy Program, which he co-founded. The present study, “Do Immigrants Assimilate More Slowly Today Than They Did in the Past?” was co-authored by me. (@leah boustan) Ran Abramitzky is a Stanford University economics professor who specializes in international trade. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research senior fellow in economic policy research.

From The Reading List

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, and Katherine Eriksson created the copyright 2020 logo. The following is an excerpt from the American Economic Review: Insights. The publisher has given written authorization for no portion of this material to be duplicated or republished without the consent of the publisher. “What Constitutes an American?” asks the New York Times. — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — “Immigration is compared to snakes by one guy, who is concerned that they will never be allowed to “go back to their huts,” and who believes that they pose a danger to his ‘jobs salaries, housing schooling and tax payments,’ among other things.

The individual who carried out the slaughter maintained he was not only mouthing “Trump’s words,” but that he was also presenting his own opinions in a “manifesto” issued soon before the massacre took place.” Another Texas immigration tale from the last week gave me comfort, since it demonstrates that America’s integration powers are still powerful.

A third grader named Precious Lara Villanueva, who lingered at dinner a year after arriving in the United States and stated, ‘I kind of agree with Rosa Parks,’ is at the center of the story.” According to the Washington Post: “”The myth of immigrant non-assimilation” — “After the White House abandoned its strategy of separating children from their migrant parents, Congress was given some breathing room to try to enact immigration legislation that addressed other important issues.” — ” Hard-liners in the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, who have previously blocked previous immigration reform efforts, are at it again.

They have caused the delay of votes on compromise legislation in recent days, and on Wednesday, they staged a mutiny against House leadership by voting down the legislation in question.

To facilitate the assimilation of illegal immigrants into American culture, it is essential to provide them with a road toward legal status.

The federal government has largely left it up to immigrants and the societies they meet to figure out the conditions of integration without intervening with policy directives or directives to intervene.

In many ways, assimilation among today’s mostly Latin American and Asian immigrant groups resembles that of previous generations, when the vast majority of immigrants came from European countries.” The first episode of this program aired on March 3, 2020.

Why the U.S. Is So Good at Turning Immigrants Into Americans

The rapid and startling nature of our ethnic makeover is easy to ignore when chipotle and kimchi are plentiful in the suburbs and Univision co-hosts a presidential discussion. Americans in their forties and fifties were born into a country where immigrants appeared to have gone overnight. As recently as 1970, the proportion of immigrants in the population was at its lowest point in recorded history, and those who were born abroad were primarily old and white. Now, the proportion of immigrants in the population is approaching levels seen during the Ellis Island era, and arrivals from Africa, Asia, and Latin America are easily identified as belonging to minorities.

  • Since 1970, the number of foreign-born people in the greater Atlanta area has increased by more than 3,000 percent.
  • The number of people migrating to wealthy nations has more than quadrupled in the last half century.
  • White British citizens make up less than half of London’s population; Miss Israel is of Ethiopian descent.
  • As Paul Collier, an Oxford economist, points out in his new book, Dubai became wealthy by attracting foreigners, but Japan has maintained its wealth by keeping them out.
  • The mobility of people, on the other hand, is not.
  • Collier gained notoriety a few years ago with his book The Bottom Billion, in which he advocated for the rescue of the world’s impoverished using unconventional measures (including military involvement), which he portrayed as evidence of his tough-minded nature.
  • He agrees with the majority of economists that the advantages of migration have typically outweighed the costs; but, he believes that if migration increases dramatically, there will be cause for concern.

(If you wish to assist someone from Mali, they recommend that you let him to mow your grass.) Collier criticizes their approach as “ethically glib,” but he cautions that fast ethnic change will endanger delicate social relationships and diminish support for the welfare state, jeopardizing the “fruits of successful nationhood” that migrants hope to achieve via integration.

  1. As a result of the events of the last decade, which included the murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, the London bus and subway bombings, and the Paris riots, many Europeans, including those on the left, have become more cautious.
  2. There are gloomy voices throughout the political spectrum, from progressives concerned about the disenfranchised poor to conservatives concerned about Hispanic takeover and Sharia law, to name just a few examples.
  3. If “two cheers for us” seems a little too Pollyannaish for a dangerous job that is still in process, how about “two cheers and a half” instead?
  4. Wider income disparities provided the poor even more motive to relocate, while lower-cost travel and communications accelerated the process.
  5. Collier believes that their departure will have a mixed influence on the nations they have left behind.
  6. One of the most personal forms of globalization is also the most disordered and little understood.
  7. Collier, on the other hand, warns that variety may have “corrosive consequences” on trust, collaboration, and the inclination to share money, among other things.
  8. Robert Putnam, ofBowling Alonefame, conducted research that demonstrated variety diminishes trust not only between ethnic groups but also inside them, which he cites as an example.
  9. and to huddle uncomfortably in front of the television.” Citing evidence that migration would continue to rise if not curbed, Collier argues that affluent countries must impose limitations or risk jeopardizing their “important gains.

Remittances (approximately $400 billion per year) provide poor countries with more than three times the amount of money they receive in foreign aid, and “brain gain” is a narrative that counters the narrative of “brain drain.” Migrants who have returned may have gained new skills, and the mere prospect of working abroad can result in a pool of educated workers that is larger than the pool of those who have left.

  • The promise of overseas employment draws a large number of Filipinos to nursing school, resulting in a nursing shortage in the country.
  • There is no doubt that migration places a strain on the economies of the countries that receive it.
  • Outcasts United, a compelling account of a soccer team of young immigrants that I happened to be reading at the same time as Exodus, is about a culture clash closer to home.
  • People who had spent their entire lives in Clarkston were able to recognize “Little in Clarkston,” according to the author, Warren St.
  • The women walked down the street wearing hijabs and even full burkas.
  • The mayor, a self-described defender of “Old Clarkston,” banned soccer from the city park, effectively denying the Fugees, a refugee-youth soccer team, a place to practice and play their games.
  • Most immigrants aren’t war refugees, and most destinations attract a less complicated jumble of ethnicities.

A dying grocery store found new life selling ethnic food, and a Baptist church reinvented itself as a multicultural congregation.

John also cites) himself is cautionary rather than alarmist.

will do this again, as it has in the past, is an open question.

Virtually all of them learn English.

hasn’t had big immigrant riots.

Yes, there are nativist kooks, immigrant gangs, ugly ethnic conflicts—but that makes European envy all the more interesting.

“However, this is far from the case in Europe.” The reasons for this go beyond America’s history as a nation of immigrants, although this is significant.

(Consider what would happen if Mexicans erected mosques.) It has become simpler for immigrants to obtain work in an economy that, until recently, had a large number of entry-level positions.

In addition, the United States had Martin Luther King Jr., whose civil-rights movement reached its zenith just as the present wave of mass migration began, leaving behind a formidable machinery for promoting opportunity.

In Europe, the offspring of immigrants frequently have a stronger attachment to their homeland than their parents do: boys bring in wives from the Old Country.

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Immigrants to the United States definitely confront obstacles to their integration, but the issues they experience are distinct from the ones that Collier is concerned about.

Making it impossible for so many individuals to find legal work, preventing them from furthering their education, and keeping their families in constant danger is a certain way to create the underclass that some opponents of immigration fear.

He believes that there is no way around the requirement to create pathways to legal status on a periodic basis.) Inequality is the other major issue facing newcomers to the country.

The family structure is splintering along social classes lines, and the level of education is becoming increasingly uneven.

Although the higher fluidity of American society was often taken for granted, new research has revealed that the United States trails behind several European nations in terms of mobility metrics, including the United Kingdom.

Rapid ethnic diversity can put a pressure on a town’s infrastructure.

That’s an unsettling picture for both immigrants and natives, especially if the road to middle-class stability becomes increasingly difficult.

What history tells us about assimilation of immigrants

As a deciding — and fiercely polarizing — issue in the United States, immigration has emerged as a major player. The question of whether newcomers to the United States would be able to integrate into American society was a major worry during the 2016 presidential election and continues to be a major subject in the public discussion on immigration policy. This is not a new issue of contention. The United States has undergone recurring waves of anti-immigrant sentiment, and today’s fears echo sirens that have been heard several times in the past.

Take the following sentence into consideration: It has been said that immigration “brings into the nation people who are difficult to assimilate and who do not bode well for the advancement of civilized society in the United States.” However, the speaker in 1891 was not Donald Trump, who was on the campaign road, but Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.

Or do they have a good chance of remaining an alien presence within our boundaries for a long time after they have settled here?

Many individuals have strong opinions on the matter, but there is only a little amount of scientific information available on how thoroughly and fast immigrants integrate into the culture of the United States of America.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service Leah Boustan of UCLA, Katherine Eriksson of UC Davis, and I have attempted to fill a portion of this gap by examining immigration during the Age of Mass Migration, which occurred between 1850 and 1913 and during which the United States’ borders were open and 30 million Europeans chose to settle in the United States.

  1. Looking at what happened to people who landed on our shores during the biggest wave of immigration in United States history might provide vital hints about how today’s arrivals will fare in the future.
  2. The traditional story is that poor immigrants pursued low-paying occupations in order to raise themselves up by their bootstraps until they were on an equal footing with locals in terms of skills and money.
  3. Long-term immigrants and locals held professions with equal skill levels and progressed up the occupational ladder at approximately the same rate, on average, throughout the course of their lives.
  4. Immigrants from wealthier nations, such as England or Germany, were more likely than locals to work in higher-skilled jobs, whereas immigrants from poorer countries, such as Italy or Russia, were more likely to work in lower-skilled occupations.
  5. These findings give valuable information about the experiences of immigrants in the United States job market.
  6. Because statistics on cultural practices—things like cuisine, dress, and accent—are rarely routinely gathered, assessing cultural assimilation can be difficult.
  7. A foreignness index was built using 2 million census records from 1920 to 1940, which indicates the likelihood that a given name would be owned by a foreigner or a local.

In this regard, the names given to children serve as markers of cultural identity.

As a result, we can track the integration process by looking at the names that immigrants gave their children as they spent more time in the United States.

When comparing immigrants and natives with the same names after 20 years in this nation, Figure 1 reveals that half of the difference in name choice between them has vanished.

The rate of change, on the other hand, varied greatly depending on the place of origin.

In terms of name-based assimilation, Russians, which included many Russian Jews, and Finns had the slowest rates.

In contrast, the fact that many immigrants did not completely adopt native naming conventions indicates that they prioritized maintaining their own cultural identities.

Between 1920 and 1940, when they were adults, we looked at census records for more than a million children of immigrants who were born in the United States but lived with their childhood households.

Furthermore, they were less inclined to marry someone who was born in a foreign country or had a foreign-sounding name.

According to the findings, while having a foreign-sounding name helped people feel more connected to their ethnic heritage, it may have put them at risk of prejudice at school or on the job.

By 1930, more than two-thirds of immigrants had filed for citizenship, and nearly all of them claimed to be able to communicate in some kind of English.

In light of these data, it appears that immigrants’ feeling of separateness gradually faded and their connection with American culture got stronger over time.

A great desire to assimilate, but little understanding on how to do so, may have greeted some newcomers upon their arrival.

Others may not have bothered about integrating at first, but they may have felt compelled to do so after a while.

Children from different cultures may have attended the same schools as their own, and they may have had American accents when speaking with them.

We might suppose that after many years in the United States, immigrants, like natives, would become baseball enthusiasts, eat hamburgers, and watch fireworks on the Fourth of July, among other activities.

As a result, people may grow to perceive themselves as hyphenated Americans, but still Americans in the traditional sense.

For example, according to Fouka (2015), German immigrants in states that implemented anti-German language laws during World War I responded by adopting names that were clearly German, maybe as a show of support from the local population.

The impact of immigration on the income and living conditions of natives, as well as the contribution of newcomers to the economy of the United States, are hot-button issues.

Based on the current literature and our own research, we anticipate that the economic impact of immigration now may be different from the economic impact of immigration during the Age of Mass Migration in the United States.

Because immigrants tend to cluster in a limited set of occupations at the top and bottom of the income distribution, it is possible that competition between immigrants and natives will become less important in the future.

The ethnicity, educational level, and employment of today’s immigrants varies significantly from those who arrived during the Age of Mass Migration.

The current wave of migration is heavily controlled, favoring those with money, education, and skills, and bringing migrants mostly from Asia and Latin America as a result of this.

In the past, immigrants were occasionally subjected to negative selection, which meant they were less talented than those who remained in their home countries.

Es is much work to be done to better comprehend immigration’s socio-economic aspects as well as the variations between its historical and contemporary manifestations.

Overall, however, the lessons learned from the Age of Mass Migration imply that worries that immigrants would not be able to integrate into American culture are unfounded.

The evidence is overwhelming that assimilation is real and measurable, that immigrant groups gradually become more like locals, and that subsequent generations develop distinct identities as citizens of the United States.

“A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration” is the title of a paper published in the journal Assimilation and Economic Outcomes.

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, and Katherine Eriksson are among those who have contributed to this work (2016).

Working document, as well as the references contained inside it Vasiliki Fouka is a fictional character created by author Vasiliki Fouka (2015).

Schools After World War I,” a paper published in the journal “Backlash.” Manuscript.

Ran Abramitzky and Leah Platt Boustan are two of the most talented writers working today (2016a). “Immigration and Economic History in the United States.” Working Paper No. 21882 of the National Bureau of Economic Research, as well as its references.

Everett I.L. Baker Library: Border Studies: Geographical Barriers

Migration Updates – University of California, Davis Migration Policy Institute is a good source of information on migration. A nonpartisan, independent think tank based in Washington, DC, committed to the study of global migration, the Migration Policy Institute is a nonpartisan, independent think tank based in Washington, DC. A nonpartisan truth tank that informs the public about the problems, attitudes, and trends impacting America and the globe, the Pew Research Center has published a report on Hispanic trends.

  1. We do not take stances on political issues.
  2. CMS is a think tank and educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, the promotion of understanding between immigrants and their host communities, and the development of public policies that protect the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and other newcomers.
  3. A community of Catholic priests, nuns, and lay persons, the Congregation of the Missionaries of St.
  4. CMS is devoted to aiding migrants and refugees all over the world, and it has offices in several countries.

American Economic Association

Despite the fact that the United States is a nation of immigrants, Americans have been bitterly split about how swiftly the country’s newest inhabitants have abandoned their traditional customs in favor of New World norms. These disputes are not new, but some critics believe that immigrants adapted more swiftly in previous generations than they do now. According to recent findings, those preconceptions are incorrect. Researchers Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, and Katherine Eriksson give an innovative first quantitative assessment of immigrant cultural integration in the past and present in the March issue of the American Economic Review: Insights.

  • Using California birth certificate statistics from 1989 to 2015, they also compared the rate of assimilation during a period of major migration in 1920 to present patterns in California.
  • The consequences, on the other hand, vary depending on the nation of origin of the mother.
  • Top panel: Western European countries like England and Denmark (to the far right of the horizontal axis) used to give their children names that were less foreign-sounding, but the names they picked did not alter significantly as they spent more time in the United States.
  • Mexican immigrants now give their children the names that are the most foreign-sounding, but they are also the ones that break the most quickly with their national customs.
  • In light of the findings, it appears that immigrants’ affinity with American culture develops stronger over time, and that suspicions that immigrants will not or cannot integrate into American society are unfounded.

Furthermore, some of the same populations who are most frequently accused of delayed assimilation (such as native Spanish speakers) are shown to be the most swiftly assimilate when using this method.

Immigrants and cultural assimilation

Instead of being driven only by individual economic circumstances, attitudes regarding immigration policy are influenced by fears of cultural diversity. This column looks back at the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), during which 30 million migrants crossed the Atlantic from Europe to the United States, to see whether such worries are warranted in the present day. Recently arrived immigrants gave their children more foreign names than long-term residents, according to statistics from the United States Census Bureau from 1920.

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Economic gains accrued to children as a result of their integration, which occurred both in school and in the workplace.

Trump originally acquired popularity among Americans by proposing to erect a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico, stating that Mexican immigrants were prone to crime.

2When it comes to Muslim immigration, Trump complained that “for some reason, there isn’t any true integration.” Specifically, I’m referring about the second and third generations.” 3 In line with survey evidence demonstrating that voters’ attitudes toward immigration policy are driven by their fears of cultural diversity rather than just by their individual economic circumstances and whether they stand to gain or lose economically from in-migration, Trump’s anti-immigrant message resonates with many voters (Citrin et al.

  • 1997, Hainmueller and Hiscox 2007).
  • In the early twentieth century, 15 percent of the population of the United States was born abroad, similar to the situation today.
  • A coalition of anti-immigrant politicians argued for the closure of the border by emphasizing what they saw to be immigrants’ failure to adapt into American society (King 2000).
  • 4 Despite the fact that these issues are at the heart of voters’ choices, there is little scientific information concerning the amount and speed with which different immigrant groups culturally adapt into American culture.
  • Today, a large number of immigrants come from Latin America and Asia, adding to the already diversified population of the United States.
  • With our co-author Katherine Eriksson, we have just published a paper in which we examine the cultural integration of immigrants during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), a period during which 30 million migrants traveled from Europe to the United States (Abramitzky et al.
  • We create a ‘cultural assimilation profile’ for each individual based on their time spent in the United States, utilizing variations in the foreignness of the names that immigrant parents chose for their children as a measure of cultural adaption.

6 In specifically, we calculate the likelihood that each first name was owned by a foreigner vs a native in the 1920 Census, and we use this information to calculate the Foreignness Index, a metric ranging from zero (names solely held by natives) to one (names only held by foreigners) (name only held by foreigners).

  1. Figure 1 depicts the distribution of name foreignness in 1920 for children of native-born parents, as well as for children of foreign-born parents who had been in the United States for less than/more than 10 years, according to their parents’ nationality.
  2. Recent immigrants were considerably more likely than long-term immigrants to give their children names with an index value more than 60 when they were born in another country.
  3. After 20 years in the United States, the data shows that immigrant parents would be able to close half of the gap in name preference between themselves and locals.
  4. Notes: The sample comprises non-black children born in the United States (outside of the South), who were living with their parents in the 1920 Census and were between the ages of 0 and 18 at the time of the census.
  5. Foreign-born households are further subdivided based on how long they have been in the United States (more/less than 10 years).
  6. Notes: The coefficients from a regression of the F-index on a set of dummy variables representing the number of years the household head had lived in the United States by the time the kid was born are shown in the graph.
  7. The information comes from the 1920 complete-count Census.
  8. Homes must be headed by an immigrant, and the spouse (mother) must be less than 43 years of age (N (boys) = 2,130,352; N (daughters) = 2,081,724) in order to qualify.

We believe that the change away from foreign names associated with time spent in the United States is caused by a mix of learning about American culture, developing a greater desire to assimilate into American society, and opting to remain in the United States (rather than return to the home country).

  1. However, the rate of assimilation varied significantly depending on the country of origin.
  2. Russian immigrants (many of whom were Russian Jews) and Finns had the slowest rates of name-based assimilation, followed by Poles and Japanese.
  3. When it came to youngsters in the early twentieth century, cultural integration had economic benefits for them both in school and on the job market.
  4. Our findings show that children with fewer foreign names finished more years of schooling, made more money, and were less likely to be jobless.
  5. Though we examine brothers who were reared in the same family, even when they were born within two years of each other and so grew up with parents who had similar levels of cultural and material resources, the connections between name foreignness and outcomes are still significant.
  6. It is possible that having a foreign name will impact someone’s behavior via his or her own perceived identity or through the experience of prejudice at school or at work.
  7. Despite arriving in the United States with a distinct set of cultural practices (proxied here by name choices), immigrants were able to close half of the cultural gap they had with natives after 20 years in the United States.
  8. Approximately one-third of first-generation immigrants who arrived in the United States before marrying, and more than half of second-generation immigrants married spouses who were from different countries of origin.
  9. Some immigrant parents preferred to name their children after culturally unique names despite the fact that children with less foreign names earned more money.

8 Given the fact that it takes time for immigrants to adjust to American society and that immigrants place a high priority on keeping their cultural identities, anti-immigrant politicians will always have a chance to condemn immigrants for their originality.


A working paper by R. Abramitzky, L. Boustan, and K. Eriksson, titled “Cultural integration during the Age of Mass Migration,” was published in 2016. “Economics and Identity,” by George A. Akerlof and Rachel E. Kranton, published in 2000. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 715-753 (2001). Algan, Y., T. Mayer, and M. Thoenig (2013), “The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France,” in Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France.

  1. A.
  2. Verdier (2000) published “Beyond the Melting Pot: Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits” in the Journal of Ethnic and Religious Studies.
  3. In “Public Opinion Toward Immigration Reform: The Role of Economic Motivations,” Citrin, D.
  4. Green, C.
  5. Wong (1997), the authors examine public opinion toward immigration reform.
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  7. 858-881.


The Washington Post published an article on June 15th.


Levitt (2004), is available online.

119, no.


1102-1128 in the American Journal of Sociology, volume 114, number 4.

Goldin, was published in 1994.


Hainmueller, J., and M.

Hiscox (2010), “Attitudes toward Highly Skilled and Low-skilled Immigration: Evidence from a Survey Experiment.” American Political Science Review104(1), 61-84.

(2015), “Trump Calls for ‘Total and Complete Shutdown of Muslims Entering the United States’.” Washington Post,December 7.

(2009),Making Americans: Immigration, Race, and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy.

Lieberson, S.

New Haven: Yale University Press.


Stanley-Becker (2016), “Trump Pushes Expanded Ban on Muslims Entering the U.S.” Washington Post,June 13.

A., and E.

Telles (2007), “Assimilation and Gender in Naming.” American Journal of Sociology112(5), 1383-1415.


Following the Paris Accords: Following Orlando: In 1917, Congress implemented a literacy test for admittance into the United States, and in 1921, Congress approved a set of country-specific quotas that favored northern and western European nations (modified in 1924). Goldin (1994) provides an analysis of the political economics of this piece of legislation. Among sociologists, Lieberson (2000) is the go-to source for information on how names reflect cultural context. For more information on African-American name traditions, see Fryer and Levitt (2004); for more information on Hispanic naming customs, see Sue and Telles (2007); and for more information on immigration to Europe, see Algan et al.


In their research of uniquely black names, Fryer and Levitt (2004) utilized an index that was comparable to the one used by Fryer and Levitt (2004).

According to Akerlof and Kranton’s (2000) theory of the economics of identity, as well as Bisin and Verdier’s (2000) model of cultural transmission within families, the importance put on retaining ethnic identity is compatible with a number of other theories.

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