Socioeconomic Attainments of Second Generation in Immigration Societies: An Analysis of Canada, Germany, and the U.S.

Project Date:
Nov 2001
Award Amount:
Project Programs:

The success of immigrants can best be measured by the success of their children--and of their children's children--who are born or raised in the adopted homeland. Richard Alba, of SUNY Albany, has posited three outcomes facing immigrant groups: conventional assimilation into the mainstream; ethnic pluralism whereby a group takes advantage of its ethnicity (the subeconomy created by Cubans in Miami and various Chinatowns, for example) while remaining closely connected to its home country; or segmented assimilation into a disadvantaged minority group or cultural ghetto. For the most part in America, immigrant groups have assimilated conventionally, but there is no guarantee that current immigrant groups will share the same fate, nor is there a significant body of research documenting immigrant experiences in countries outside of the United States. For instance, most of the immigrant groups that have become marginalized in America are dark-skinned, and Alba wonders whether this phenomenon occurs on a broader scale, such as with Islamic immigrants to Western Europe. To answer this and other questions, Alba will conduct a comparative analysis of the socioeconomic status of second-generation immigrant groups in three countries that treat immigrants quite differently: Canada, Germany, and the United States. In the United States, immigrants have generally been welcomed, although there is no national policy to encourage assimilation. In contrast, Canada is a multicultural society with two charter languages and a higher proportion of immigrants than in the United States. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Germany historically has not encouraged immigration, making it very difficult for immigrants to become citizens, although recently this is starting to change. By defining variables consistently, Alba expects to minimize the methodological challenges in comparing data collected in different countries with different sampling designs and questionnaires. With Foundation support, Alba will produce two overview papers and a series of papers focusing on comparisons of specific ethnic groups within and among these three countries.


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