How successfully are the U.S.-born children of immigrants—members of the rapidly growing “immigrant second generation”—making their way into the mainstream of American life? Numerous researchers, many with Russell Sage Foundation support, have looked at how these new Americans are faring in terms of education, jobs and family life, their sense of identity, and their mobility within American society. This research has led to many publications, but the rich data sets that those research projects created represent an equally important legacy. Now that the data is publicly available, it is possible for new researchers with different approaches and new research questions to cast a fresh eye on this material.
In an effort to facilitate greater use of the data from these studies and advance the agenda of research on the incorporation of the new second generation, Philip Kasinitz of Hunter College / CUNY Graduate Center, received an award from the Foundation to organize the mini-conference, “Immigration and Second Generation: What Have We Learned and What’s Next in Research on Children of Immigrants,” at the March 2009 meetings of the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS).The conference examined data from several Russell Sage Foundation studies: The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study conducted in Miami and San Diego (PIs Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut); the New York Second Generation Study (PIs Philip Kasinitz, John H. Mollenkopf, and Mary C. Waters); the Los Angeles Second Generation Study (PIs Frank Bean and Rubén Rumbaut); and the Generations of Exclusion Study, also based in Los Angeles (PIs Edward Telles and Vilma Ortiz). There were three sessions, each open to all ESS participants. The first session, led by Robert Smith of CUNY, assessed the state of knowledge on the current state of the second generation, what we still need to know, and what we should be recommending to policymakers. The second session compared the experience of second-generation integration in the United States with the situation in Western Europe, drawing on the European Union’s TIES project. This session included papers from Richard Alba, City University of New York; Thomas Soehl, University of California, Los Angeles; and Helga De Valk, University of Amsterdam. The third session was a data workshop where the investigators offered guidance and advice about using the data sets and addressed the potential for, and possible problems of, comparing the data across studies. This session drew many younger scholars and graduate students, who will hopefully undertake a new round of analysis of these rich data.