The Immigrant Paradox

NY Times columnist David Brooks asks: Are new immigrants wrecking the social fabric of the United States? Or is it the other way around? Is America corrupting them instead?

Back in 2010, researchers from Brown University have noticed that first generation immigrant children generally outperform second and third generation immigrant children, despite having the largest linguistic and cultural barriers. They call this "Immigrant Paradox":

“These are very unusual findings,” said Garcia Coll, the Robinson and Barstow Professor of Education, Psychology and Pediatrics at Brown. “In a time where immigrants are seen as detriments to our society and not making contributions, what this research is telling us is that the first generations come in with amazing energy and amazing capabilities of surmounting lack of education in parents, poverty, and language differences. The tragedy is that as some kids acculturate and become American, they start doing worse.”

Now, a new research from the University of Florida found further support for the Immigrant Paradox: the second and third generations also tend to get into more trouble. Mildred Maldonado-Molina, et al. looked at the pattern of DUI arrests and found that first-generation immigrants have the lowest rate of DUI arrests, as well as marijuana and alcohol use. Second generation US-born Hispanic youth has higher rates of those three things, and third generation even worse.

Interesting, huh? What do you think the reason for immigrants' children and grandchildren doing progressively "worse" in those metrics?


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I don't have the time to read another study. Do both of these studies focus on Latino immigrants, or just the second one? Cultural differences could affect the results.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Hard work is an archaic American virtue. But not so for other nations. The immigrants I have known tend to begin a bit more "miserly". They will have 3 families living under a single roof, and all working at the same business.

Habituation. We habituate and slacken on our morals and habits when the environment is so.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Sounds to me like a case of regression to the mean. First-generation immigrants are those with enough "get up and go" to make dramatic changes in their life in the hope of improving their lot. But, as in any situation where you have a mix of heredity and randomness, the children will tend to be more average than their parents were. A simple example of this is rolling a bunch of dice (which have no 'heredity' from roll to roll), selecting all those "exceptional" ones that rolled sixes, and seeing how they do on a re-roll.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Another article trying to make America seem like a horrible place.

Most immigrants who come here legally enjoy life here and make a go of it. Their children end up spoiled, period. Their grandchildren, even more so. What is so surprising about that?

As to WHY they are spoiled, well, put it down to how upwardly mobile immigrants can be here and stop bashing America.

You won't find many countries in the world where people can come, work hard and so quikly carve out a decent life for their family.

Jealous? Get over it. That's life.

But don't try to make us feel ashamed of the freedom we have to move up.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@Laston: The 3 Generation Rule is quite real, especially in Corporations, Founders, Sons of Founders, etc.

-Usually by/after 3g, they've pissed it away because they're not visionaries anymore, they're Useless Aristocrats who know how to do Nothing but spend money.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

Om Nom - Twaggies by Twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
"The Immigrant Paradox"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window