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Intergenerational Mobility among Immigrants and their Descendents


This chapter provides an overview of the intergenerational progress of several major immigrant groups in the United States. Drawing on the most recent issues of the CPS, we provide estimates of poverty rates, educational attainment, and occupational attainment among the native born children of immigrants and compare these outcomes to similar estimates of the foreign born with the 1980 Census, allowing for a comparison across generations. We find improvement from the first to second generation for nearly every origin group. To more directly explore the transmission of socioeconomic status among immigrants, we directly link the parental and child outcomes of immigrants in Los Angeles, estimating the relationship between parents’ and children’s educational and occupational outcomes. We find considerable variation in the relationship between parent and child outcomes by origin group, although all immigrants show higher rates of intergenerational mobility than the children of the native born. Traditional assimilation models, as well as the alternative working class and selectivity hypotheses we pose here, do not fully explain these inter-ethnic differences. 

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