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Immigration: Assimilation and the measure of an American

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In other words, a first-generation immigrant will usually struggle with more cultural differences than his American-born child, who will grapple with more cultural disconnect than his children.

But there are also significant differences between immigrant groups, he points out, more so than between immigrants overall and the native-born population.

In his work, he developed three categories of assimilation – civic, cultural, and economic – and then combined those categories for an overall assimilation score. By his findings, Latino immigrants tend to be least assimilated, particularly on measures of civic and economic assimilation, which include characteristics such as citizenship, professional status, and homeownership.

Indians and South Koreans score higher on economic assimilation than on cultural assimilation index measures, which include questions about language, marital status, and the number of children in the adult's household.

He has also found that, as a whole, immigrants to the US assimilate far more than those in European countries, but do so less easily than immigrants in Canada.

"It turns out that almost every developed country has worries about immigration," he says. In Europe, immigrants "have a harder time working their way to citizenship [and] immigrant unemployment problems are more acute.... Even if you look at a basic thing like homeownership – the home-ownership rate for immigrants in most countries is lower than for natives. The disparities in European countries are much more acute than in the US."

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