Saturday, May 28, 2022
Voice of America look at the work of economic historians Leah Boustan and Ran Abramitzky, who are reviewing the data to compare modern-day migrants to those who came to America a century ago.
“One big surprise was how well the children of immigrants are doing, and how (children of) immigrants from nearly every sending country are more upwardly mobile than the children of the U.S.-born. And how that stays constant over 100 years, regardless of the sending country,” says Abramitzky, a professor of economics at Stanford.
The reason many children of immigrants do better than their American-born counterparts can come down to location, said Boustan, a professor of economics at Princeton. “They're locating in very dynamic cities with a lot of good job opportunities, and that's helping set up their kids for success,” Boustan says. “We find that the children of the internal migrants — the U.S.-born families that move somewhere else — actually look a lot like the children of immigrants. And so, what's really happening is that immigrants are willing to move to good places, and a lot of U.S.-born families stay in the location where they were born.
Another less-apparent advantage for children of immigrants in low-paying jobs, is that their parents might have college degrees and professional skills honed in their home countries that they cannot apply in the U.S., but they instill a drive for education and professional success in their children.
The data suggests that the children of today’s immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Mexico or Guatemala who grew up in relatively poor families are doing just as well as the children of Norwegian, German and Italian immigrants of the past. Like them, they are more likely than the children of equally poor U.S.-born parents to make it into the middle class or beyond.
Leah Boustan and Ran Abramitzk's findings are laid out in their book, “Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success.”