The children of immigrants continue a journey begun by their parents. Born or raised in the United States, this second generation now stands over 20 million strong. In this insightful new book, immigration scholars Renee Luthra, Thomas Soehl, and Roger Waldinger provide a fresh understanding of the making of the second generation, bringing both their origins and destinations into view.
Using surveys of second generation immigrant adults in New York and Los Angeles, Origins and Destinations explains why second generation experiences differ across national origin groups and why immigrant offspring with the same national background often follow different trajectories. Intergroup disparities stem from contexts of both emigration and immigration. Origin countries differ in value orientations: immigrant parents transmit lessons learned in varying contexts of emigration to children raised in the U.S. A system of migration control sifts immigrants by legal status, generating a context of immigration that favors some groups over others. Both contexts matter: schooling is higher among immigrant children from more secular societies (South Korea) than among those from more religious countries (the Philippines). When immigrant groups enter the U.S. migration system through a welcoming door, as opposed to one that makes authorized status difficult to achieve, education propels immigrant children to better jobs.
Diversity is also evident among immigrant offspring whose parents stem from the same place. Immigrant children grow up with homeland connections, which can both hurt and harm: immigrant offspring get less schooling when a parent lives abroad, but more schooling if parents in the U.S. send money to relatives living abroad. Though all immigrants enter the U.S. as non-citizens, some instantly enjoy legal status, while others spend years in the shadows. Children born abroad but raised in the U.S. are all everyday Americans, but only some have become de jure Americans, a difference yielding across-the-board positive effects, even among those who started out in the same country.
Disentangling the sources of diversity among today’s population of immigrant offspring, Origins and Destinations provides a compelling new framework for understanding the second generation that is transforming America.
RENEE LUTHRA is senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Essex.
THOMAS SOEHL is assistant professor of sociology at McGill University and the Canada Research Chair in International Migration.
ROGER WALDINGER is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.