Arnold Kling  

Immigrant Progress

Acemoglu, Clark Medal winner... European Demographics...

The latest Milken Institute Review has a number of interesting articles. For example, a report on the income status of second-generation immigrants.

According to a new Census survey, the 30 million second-generation Americans seem well on their way to achieving the American dream. “Gen-2” workers have a median income of $38,000, compared with $27,000 for the foreign-born and $35,000 for the total workforce...
Perhaps most remarkable is the educational attainment of adult Gen-2s. Fully 57 percent have some schooling beyond 12th grade,
compared to 42 percent of Gen-1s and 54 percent of the whole population. Moreover, only 14 percent are high-school dropouts,
compared with one-third of first-generation adults. This contrast is even more dramatic for Hispanics: only 22 percent are dropouts, compared to 54 percent of new Hispanic immigrants.

It seems like the escalation of income is at work.

For Discussion. Would the success of second-generation immigrants increase or reduce the tension over immigration policy?

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CATEGORIES: Income Distribution

COMMENTS (11 to date)
Timothy writes:

I think the effect on tension would be nebulous. On the one hand, it dissuades the myth that they're lazy no-accounts who are destined to fail and succle off of our welfare programs. On the other hand, it adds to the fear that those darn nasty immigrants will steal OUR jobs*. Depending on which attitude is more greatly affected at the margin, I think this could go either way.

*note, as a libertarian I hold neither of these opinions, but TV news tells me that pleny of others do.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

The question is not really economic, but demographic. The American population has finally brought reduction of Newborns, but Economists and Business wants immigration for Cheap Labor. Americans, though, react negatively to Population density. I try to act like an Economist, but my Income does not improve with maintenance of cheap labor, and I desire wide open, empty spaces. lgl

Randy writes:

The success of second generation immigrants will create more first generation immigrants. This will increase the tension. While it might be possible to seal the borders, it is highly unlikely, as hispanics already have significant political power in the border states. I think we might as well just break out the Dos Equis and party on Cinco de Mayo.

David Thomson writes:

Let’s stop employing euphemistic language. We are talking about Hispanics---and most importantly those immigrating from Mexico. These people come from a culture that holds education, especially for males, as something of little importance. And to make matters worse, liberal activists within the United States encourage them to “remain loyal to their people” and refrain from assimilating into the wider and allegedly reactionary Anglo culture. The professors at some of our “finest schools” are mostly responsible for the continuing difficulties.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Funny, everyone in my family from El Salvador went to college...several even finished med school.

spencer writes:

I sorry David, I do not understand. Your response to a report that second generation immigrant are doing better then the average American -- in other words that they are intergrating into the system very well -- is a rant blaming liberals -- the teachers unions --for the failure of immigrants to do well.

This does not compute.

Randy writes:


Your post represents exactly the kind of resentment we can expect. The basic theme is that the America of the future is going to be much different than the America of today. But then, the America of today is much different than the America of the past. Its going to happen. Short of draconian measures we no longer have the guts to implement (one of the ways we we're better, in my opinion), there is no stopping this new wave of immigrants. As always, those with the ability to adapt will succeed.

David Thomson writes:

“Funny, everyone in my family from El Salvador went to college...several even finished med school.”

That is why I focussed on Mexican immigrants. I do not the mistake of lumping together all “Hispanics.” Second generation Mexican immigrants are not doing as well. The latter are from a culture that places little value on education. Richard Rodriquez has often talked about this sad state of affairs. Please take a look:

Bill writes:

My main problem with immigration is the cost of educating their kids in the here and now. Sure, they might do well in the future, but I'm trying to buy a home and start my own family. The average female Mexican immigrant has three children, and she does so at an early age. She and her partner usually work at low-wage jobs and pay little in taxes. Yet, those three children will cost states anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 per year to educate.

It also annoys me that Mexico can just shift their unemployment and racial problems to the US. Maybe a little pressure from a domestic underclass would hasten government reform. Especially, considering the liklihood that those leaving are just the type of brave souls that might actually make a difference in their home country.

Anyway, I like Mexicans more than many Americans. Their good cultural qualities are very appealing (to me, at least).

spencer writes:

If we are only spending $30,000 to $50,000 to educate the children of immigrants so they have what is needed to become a productivity, tax paying memeber of our society I would call it a very good investment that all of us will benefit from. It is certainly a lot less then spending a similiar ammount each year to keep them in prison.

drtaxsacto writes:

Data from the USC demographics unit (on the USC website) confirms the data about the conformance of characteristics for Gen-2 people to the rest of the population. Their quip was that the immigrant population is not "Peter Pan" - i.e. our perceptions are often that a population is static in time and behavior - when of course they are not.

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