Immigrants and Assimilation


Tyler Cowen and Dan Rothschild of George Mason Univ. and the Mercatus Center have an excellent op-ed in today's Wash Post about Latino assimiliation. Snippets:

Only 7 percent of the children of Latino immigrants speak Spanish as a primary language, and virtually none of their children do. Just as they did a century ago, immigrants largely come knowing little English. But they learn, and their children use it as a primary language. The United States is not becoming a bilingual nation….

The family has long been the core social unit in America, and immigrants share that value. Census data show that 62 percent of immigrants over age 15 are married, compared to 52 percent of natives. Only 6 percent of Latino adults are divorced, compared with 10 percent of whites and 12 percent of African Americans. Latino immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households rather than just visiting grandparents a couple of times a year.

Most Latino immigrants want to become U.S. citizens. This process takes years, so recent immigrants are not a good barometer. But according to the 2000 Census, the majority of Latinos who entered the United States before 1980 have become citizens. And second-generation immigrants are more likely to marry natives than immigrants, further assimilating their children. The majority of immigrants also own their own homes, a key part of the American dream….

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Hispanic men are more likely than white men to be in the labor force. While immigrant Latinas initially lag behind native women, Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that, despite initial inclinations to be stay-at-home moms, immigrant women quickly assimilate into the American workforce.

Whole thing here. As with their earlier LA Times op-ed on the benefits low-skill immigrants bring to the economy, this is a must-read.