Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, and Katherine Eriksson
Date of Publication: 
September, 2017
Source Organization: 

The authors claim to provide the first quantitative comparison of the cultural assimilation of past and present immigrants by examining the names that first-generation immigrants give to their children as they spend time in the US. Given that names have both cultural significance and are independently chosen, they are a good measure of immigrants' intentions in weighing cultural heritage and concerns about broader assimilation in the US. The data demonstrate that the rate of name-based assimilation is similar between past and present waves of immigration. The authors also cite research to show that second generation immigrants have similar fertility rates, labor force participation and political preferences to children of US-born parents. The implications of the findings reinforce the idea that immigrants coming to the US work hard to assimilate at comparable rates to previous generations. In the past, worries over assimilation led to the first strict immigration quotas of the 1920's. The authors suggest that these concerns, and policies which come from them, may be misguided given the evidence available. (Julianne Weis, Ph.D)

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Abramitzky, R., Platt Boustanm L., & Eriksson, K. (2016, revised 2017). Cultural assimilation during the age of mass migration (NBER Working Paper No. 22381). Retrieved from the National Bureau of Economic Research website: