E.g., 08/20/2014
E.g., 08/20/2014

The Social Mobility of Immigrants and Their Children

Reports
June 2009

The Social Mobility of Immigrants and Their Children

How successful is integration and immigrant social mobility in Europe and North America? This report explores this fundamental question by examining the economic performance and rate of labor market assimilation for first and second generation immigrants. While authors recognize substantive differences in immigrants’ outcomes across a number of variables—type of migrant stream, country of destination, country of origin, ethnicity, age, level of education—several broad trends are identified: Despite increases in earnings, first generation immigrants typically experience downward mobility in terms of occupational status or relative position in the earnings scale compared to native workers, and do not achieve parity with natives in many countries. Second generation children of immigrants experience substantial upward mobility relative to their parents but have lower occupational status and employment rates than their non-immigrant peers, for reasons that cannot be fully explained by differences in educational attainment.

The report also found the following correlations: second generation children of parents who fare well in the host-country labor market tended to be more successful; immigrant groups that perform well in the first generation also tended to perform well in the second; both generations benefitted from cultural integration and language acquisition at an early age. Based on these findings, authors contend that improving outcomes for the first generation will also benefit the second, and outline what policymakers can do to promote social mobility and integration.