Today the Center for Immigration Studies published a new study from me on the grandchildren of low-skill immigrants. Do they close the socioeconomic gap? From the executive summary:
The intergenerational assimilation of low-skill immigrants is an important issue in the broader immigration debate. If the children and grandchildren of low-skill immigrants eventually rise to the same socioeconomic level as natives, then the poverty-related problems caused by low-skill immigration, though painful today, will dissipate over time.
Past research on the assimilation of Americans who have ancestors from Mexico (the largest source of low-skill immigration to the United States) indicates that Mexican-Americans continue to lag behind in the third generation and beyond. However, reliance on survey respondents self-identifying as Mexican-American has made this research less than definitive, as not everyone with Mexican-born grandparents has retained a Mexican-American identity.
To solve this "ethnic attrition" problem, researchers have turned to the 1997 panel of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY-97). Unique among government data sets, the NLSY-97 includes grandparent birth data that can objectively identify the Mexican-American third generation with no ethnic attrition. In replicating and extending a recent NBER working paper that uses the NLSY-97, this report affirms that although Mexican-Americans make progress over time, the third generation still has significantly lower education and earnings compared to fourth-plus generation white Americans.Please read the whole thing.
I followed the same theme in a new article for Academic Questions. I note that the problem of ethnic disparities in university admissions -- including the messy attempts to correct them through "affirmative action" -- is exacerbated by low-skill immigration. Because of the persistence of disparities across generations, low-skill immigration effectively creates new groups and adds to the size of older groups that require special preferences. From the introduction:
Racial preferences strike many people as wrong, but there is a certain level of discomfort with a demographically unrepresentative student body as well. Since we must have one or the other, schools have adopted a muddled, dishonest policy on race that leaves no one satisfied.
The impasse is to some degree an inevitability born of our history, as the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow affects white-black relations to this day. The school admissions mess has been exacerbated, however, by our country’s more recent choice to accept large scale, low-skilled immigration. As with all immigration, the low-skilled variety comes with both costs and benefits to the United States. What is underappreciated, however, is the persistence of some of those costs across generations. When the children and grandchildren of low-skilled immigrants do not rise to the same socioeconomic level as natives, they add to the number of underrepresented groups. The newer groups lodge familiar requests for representation and generate familiar quandaries for elite schools. Put bluntly, affirmative action in college admissions is no longer just about black Americans, and low-skilled immigration is the main reason for it.Read the whole thing at this link.