Paths And Barriers To Assimilation

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Paths and Barriers to Assimilation

Paths and Barriers to Assimilation


International migration is rarely controversial with respect to social and political categories. In contrast, international migration often arouses heated controversies and inflammatory rhetoric. That may seem odd in the context of the United States since we like to think of ourselves as a “nation of immigrants.” Why are there such passionate arguments about people who seem to like our country so much that they want to move here?

It is worth taking a moment to address this question since it puts the more technical issues in a larger, interpretive framework. Not only has this but it also hovered around the social and political categories, which results in the barriers against the assimilation of immigrant in U.S.

Taken together, the direct and indirect impacts of immigration on the U.S. population are startling. The Census Bureau projects that the entire U.S. population will grow to 439 million by 2050, an increase of 157 million, or 56%, since 2000. To put this in concrete terms, this is equivalent to adding the entire populations of Mexico and Canada to today's population of the United States. Over four fifths of that growth will be due to immigrants and their descendents. Thus, immigration is dramatically increasing the number of people living in the United States.


In the United States, immigration lowers the wages and employment of low-wage workers, but it also increases monetary growth and national income. The recipients of this additional income aside from the immigrants themselves are the employers of immigrants and the workers whose skills are complementary to the immigrants or who provide services to the immigrants. Since these tend to be high-skill, high-wage workers and since large employers typically have high incomes, it follows that many beneficiaries of immigration to the United States are relatively affluent (Esses, 2005).

Much of the foregoing analysis refers to the immigration of low-skill workers. Of course, many other immigrants are highly skilled. Immigrants are almost as likely as natives to hold a bachelor's degree and are somewhat more likely to hold a graduate degree (Pew Hispanic Center, 2009). Highly skilled immigrants bring technical and entrepreneurial skills into the United States that add to productivity, innovation, and growth.

Immigration thus has a variety of both positive and negative effects on U.S. natives. Since the adverse effects tend to be concentrated among low-income natives, and since the positive effects may be concentrated among high-income natives, there are two overall consequences. First, immigration may increase inequality along with other trends such as technological change, the decline in unions, international competition, and deindustrialization. Second, the gains and losses from immigration may approximately cancel out in the aggregate (Chandler, 2001).

In addition to the economic effects on U.S.-born workers, another area of debate concerns economic assimilation or whether immigrants' earnings distributions approach those of natives as time elapses within a host country. Recent empirical evidence does not support full economic assimilation by immigrants. Cross-sectional regressions in the early literature predicted rapid increases in immigrant earnings upon ...
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