A Measurement of Assimilation

This is an interesting study that shows the degree of similarity between native and foreign-born adults in the United States. The findings are fascinating and worth an in-depth look, but I’ll highlight a few that pertain to Asians here and attach a couple of fascinating graphs associated with the study. Discuss!

  • The degree of similarity between the native- and foreign-born, although low by historical standards, has held steady since 1990. Assimilation declined during the 1980s, remained stable through the 1990s, and has actually increased slightly over the past few years
  • Economic and civic assimilation often occurs without significant cultural assimilation.
  • Immigrants from developed countries are not necessarily more assimilated. Immigrants born in Korea, which the World Bank classifies as a high-income country, have a collective assimilation index value lower than that of immigrants from Cuba or the Philippines, which are classified as low-income countries. Several factors can explain this pattern, among them the fact that immigrants from developed countries do not necessarily become naturalized citizens more rapidly than those from the developing world. The United States often attracts immigrants who belonged to the economic elite of their origin country.
  • Immigrants from Vietnam, Cuba, and the Philippines enjoy some of the highest rates of assimilation. However, these groups assimilate more rapidly in some respects than others. For example, they are far more assimilated economically than they are culturally. Curiously, all of the countries mentioned have experienced U.S. military occupation.
  • This pattern implies that policies restricting bilingual education, or requiring that government business be conducted in English, will have little impact on economic or civic assimilation. Indeed, erecting linguistic barriers to civic participation might actually retard assimilation along noncultural lines. Some observers may believe that policies promoting cultural homogenization are desirable. What should be clear, however, is that such policies do not appear to promote civic or economic assimilation.


2 thoughts on “A Measurement of Assimilation”

  1. I wonder if the level of cultural assimilation by country of origin correlate with the intensity of historical nationalistic identity. I’m not implying that high cultural assimilation is necessarily directly proportional to a sense of national identity, because there may be other factors involved here, but I think it would make an interesting correlation nevertheless. China enjoys one of the oldest national histories along with well-known ancient textual history, India is similar–and probably older than China. I think Japanese Americans could be seen as an exception, but I see them as a case of incidental exception because of the aftermath of WWII internment–a lot of parents practically pushed their kids to be more American since then. On this new information, it may be very dependent on what kind of environment parents project on their kids and what age… thanks for this informative post, by the way.

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