Recent immigrants and their children are a growing component of the United States population, but how well they are adjusting is not well known. In this article I synthesize research regarding the main features of the immigrants' economic status and, because most of their U.S.-born children are still in school, those children's educational status. Immigrants themselves take various paths toward economic advancement, including opening businesses or working in particular occupations or niches found useful by their ethnic group. Better-educated immigrants tend to have higher incomes, but after a 10- or 20-year adjustment period most immigrants attain economic success. The children of immigrants become proficient in English by late in high school and are generally successful in school. They do better in school when their U.S. education builds upon their ethnic heritage and when they avoid detrimental aspects of American culture, but students who do not complete high school run a much greater risk of spending time in jail or prison. I explain how educational achievement varies by ethnic group, gender, race identity, and neighborhood character; the low percentage of college graduates among Mexican-Americans is an especially significant and not easily explained finding.
Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jul 5, 2006