Waves of Immigration from the Middle East to the United States
20 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 20, 2013
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there have been three waves of immigration from the Middle East to the United States, roughly defined as a first wave from the late 1800's to 1924, then a second wave from the mid 1940's until 1965, and a third wave from the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act until the present. How accurate are these categorizations? In what ways has immigration from the Middle East to the United States changed over the past century? This paper addresses these issues using Census data from 1980-2011, covering immigration cohorts from 1910 through 2011. I find key differences in immigration both across source countries and arrival cohorts. There has been a general downward trend in the education and income levels of immigrants since 1965, most notably for countries with large refugee populations. The effects of ethnic enclaves depend on characteristics of the enclaves as well as immigrant arrival cohort. In general, living in an ethnic enclave is associated with lower educational outcomes and income, though the effects are reversed for high skill enclaves as well as enclaves in which immigrants hold executive and managerial positions. Furthermore, the negative effects of ethnic enclaves depend on the arrival cohort, with enclaves having potentially positive effects for the most recent arrival cohorts, but a negative impact on immigrants who stay in the enclave years after their arrival.
Keywords: Immigration, Middle East, Ethnic Enclaves, Occupational Clustering
JEL Classification: F22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation