What the 2nd-gener-asians stand to lose

There is a notion in economics known as "opportunity cost" – it is the idea that every decision you make, excludes the alternative — and that alternative was the price that you paid to make the decision. So for instance, if you were trying to decide between two things, whether to have the chicken sandwich or the meatloaf for lunch, not only did you pay whatever monetary difference between the two, but you also sacrificed one to have the other. It's a very interesting notion, although perhaps not in this example, because it really brings out the weight of significant decisions. What you have for lunch is simply not as signficant as who you decide to date, and who you decide to date is not as weighty as who you decide to marry, and where you decide to marry is not as important is where you decide to live, so on an so forth.

At some point in the decision-making process for the immigrant, this weighing of opportunities and the costs associated with the decision took place. For the first-generations, there was much to be gained — perhaps it was political stability, new business opportunities, freedom of religion, an outlet to graduate studies, a new life, more opportunities for the children, and for the adventurous in heart, a new culture. And it cost them individually, well, the sense of being a native, friendships and family ties, command of the language, and for the less adventurous of heart, their old culture. So along with their two sets of luggage (150kg total and often named 'emigration bags') and their two permissible carry-on bags, they boarded a plane carrying as much of their culture with them and brought them here. The chance at a new life for them and their children was too much to pass up.

Their decision obviously has some ramifications for the 2nd-generation, their children. Sure, we got the opportunities in education and we perhaps lived in a lot more prosperity than our far-off cousins. We have made out quite well in terms of those things. We are well-educated, well-paid, and relative to the general population, well-off. But it looks like we have some decisions to make as well. Because it has cost us something to live here and it will continue to cost us something.

And at some point we have to be conscious about this, because while with every decision, there is an opportunity cost to the alternative, there is an even higher cost when we decide NOT to decide.

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