Socioeconomic Integration of U.S. Immigrant Groups Over the Long Term: The Second Generation and Beyond

37 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2018 Last revised: 28 Aug 2021

See all articles by Brian Duncan

Brian Duncan

University of Colorado at Denver

Stephen Trejo

University of Texas at Austin

Date Written: March 2018

Abstract

In this chapter, we document generational patterns of educational attainment and earnings for contemporary immigrant groups. We also discuss some potentially serious measurement issues that arise when attempting to track the socioeconomic progress of the later-generation descendants of U.S. immigrants, and we summarize what recent research has to say about these measurement issues and how they might bias our assessment of the long-term integration of particular groups. Most national origin groups arrive with relatively high educational attainment and/or experience enough improvement between the first and second generations such that they quickly meet or exceed, on average, the schooling level of the typical American. Several large and important Hispanic groups (including Mexicans and Puerto Ricans) are exceptions to this pattern, however, and their prospects for future upward mobility are subject to much debate. Because of measurement issues and data limitations, Mexican Americans in particular and Hispanic Americans in general probably have experienced significantly more socioeconomic progress beyond the second generation than available data indicate. Even so, it may take longer for their descendants to integrate fully into the American mainstream than it did for the descendants of the European immigrants who arrived near the turn of the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation

Duncan, Brian and Trejo, Stephen, Socioeconomic Integration of U.S. Immigrant Groups Over the Long Term: The Second Generation and Beyond (March 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24394, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3138346

Brian Duncan (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Denver ( email )

Box 173364
1250 14th Street
Denver, CO 80217
United States

Stephen Trejo

University of Texas at Austin ( email )

2317 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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