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The American Dream is alive and well! Kids of poor immigrants rise no matter where they come from

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Children of poor immigrants rise no matter where they come from and have higher rates of upward mobility than US born peers, according to a new study. 

The report by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Davis, shows how immigrants today are no slower to move into the middle class than immigrants from 100 years ago. 

Using millions of father-son pairs across three different time periods, academics say they have shown how both now, and in the past, immigrants may not earn as much as US born workers but their children do.  

The report notes: ‘No matter when their parents came to the U.S. or what country they came from, children of immigrants have higher rates of upward mobility than their U.S.-born peers. 

‘What’s more, their rates of mobility today are strikingly similar to rates of mobility in the past.’

In fact, those born to poor Mexican and Dominican legal immigrants now are able to reach the same relative economic success as those born to poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland a hundred years ago the study claims. 

And in both eras these children have done better than those born to US natives. 

Children of poor immigrants rise no matter where they come from and have higher rates of upward mobility than US born peers, according to a new study. The report by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California , Davis, shows how immigrants observed from 1980 to 2015 are no slower to move into the middle class than immigrants from 100 years ago

Children of poor immigrants rise no matter where they come from and have higher rates of upward mobility than US born peers, according to a new study. The report by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California , Davis, shows how immigrants observed from 1980 to 2015 are no slower to move into the middle class than immigrants from 100 years ago

Using millions of father-son pairs across three different time periods (those observed between 1910 and 1940 pictured here) academics say they have shown how both now, and in the past, immigrants may not earn as much as US born workers but their children do

Using millions of father-son pairs across three different time periods (those observed between 1910 and 1940 pictured here) academics say they have shown how both now, and in the past, immigrants may not earn as much as US born workers but their children do

Trump said in August he was considering issuing an executive order to get rid of the longstanding measure that guarantees citizenship to those born within the borders of the U.S.

His biggest campaign promise was to crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall to stop people from unlawfully crossing the border and living off of U.S. benefits. He also said during the 2016 campaign that he would do away with birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. 

WHAT THE CHARTS SHOW

The charts used in this report show the average income rank for children born to 25th percentile, the lowest quartile, by father’s birthplace. 

These graphs highlight how the average boy in that group will go on to make more money than his parents. 

And the sons of immigrants will climb that ladder higher than those born to US native dads. 

The patterns continues over a  hundred year period.  

It is important to note the data for America compares only white boys for the 1880 and 1910 census.    

The administration also announced a new ‘public charge’ rule that would allow the government to deny entry to individuals it felt would likely end up relying on Medicaid, food stamps or other public benefits. 

But Ran Abramitzky, a professor at Stanford and one of the paper’s authors, said: ‘The short-term perspective on immigrant assimilation that politicians tend to take might underestimate the long-run success of immigrants. 

‘By the second generation, they are doing quite well.’ 

In January 2018 Trump again made headlines when he lashed out in a meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform, demanding to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called ‘s**thole’ countries. 

He was speaking about people from Haiti, El Salvador and various African nations, people briefed on the meeting told the Washington Post.

Trump then suggested the US should welcome immigrants from places like Norway. 

But this study shows that in fact Norwegians have been shown to be among the least successful after they arrived.

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Immigrants to the USA landing at Ellis Island, New York circa 1900. A report by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Davis, shows how immigrants today are no slower to move into the middle class than immigrants from 100 years ago

Immigrants to the USA landing at Ellis Island, New York circa 1900. A report by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Davis, shows how immigrants today are no slower to move into the middle class than immigrants from 100 years ago

Migrants are brought to a processing center after crossing the international border between the United States and Mexico in March 2019. Those born to poor Mexican and Dominican legal immigrants are able to reach the same relative economic success as those born to poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland a hundred years ago the study claims

Migrants are brought to a processing center after crossing the international border between the United States and Mexico in March 2019. Those born to poor Mexican and Dominican legal immigrants are able to reach the same relative economic success as those born to poor immigrants from Finland or Scotland a hundred years ago the study claims

Crucially for those born at the bottom of the income distribution the gap in mobility rates is much bigger, the reports authors say. 

Comparing three groups, from the 1880 and 1910 censuses and data from legal immigrants who first came to the U.S. around 1980, the study shows how ‘children of first-generation immigrants growing up in the poorest 25 percent of the distribution end up near the middle as adults’.

The study adds: ‘These children of immigrants have rates of economic mobility that are 3–6 percentage points higher than their U.S. born peers. 

‘For those in the top quarter of the income distribution, the gap in mobility is about 1-5 percentage points.’   

The authors conclude: ‘Our research suggests that politicians crafting immigration policy shouldn’t be so short-sighted. 

‘Even immigrants who come to the U.S. with few resources or skills bring something that’s hugely beneficial to the U.S. economy: their children. 

‘Most importantly, our research suggests there’s room to be optimistic about the American Dream. For millions of families, coming to America can and does improve their children’s opportunities.’ 

HOW THE STUDY USED MILLIONS OF FATHER-SON PAIRS TO MEASURE MOBILITY 

The study used the data from millions of father-son pairs from across three different time periods to measure mobility.  

Firstly, from the 1880 census, when most immigrants were from Northern and Western Europe.

Secondly, from the 1910 census when more came from Southern and Eastern Europe. 

And finally from those born between 1978 and 1983 and their parents via data gathered by Opportunity Insights.  

Immigrants on Ellis Island reception center in New York City in 1902. The study used the data from millions of father-son pairs from across three different time periods, including this one, to measure mobility

Immigrants on Ellis Island reception center in New York City in 1902. The study used the data from millions of father-son pairs from across three different time periods, including this one, to measure mobility

Only those documented and with Social Security numbers are included in the third wave. This distinction was not as relevant for the first two time periods.

Academics followed the families over many years looking at the incomes and jobs of the father compared to their sons. The incomes were estimated until 1940 as the data for this did not exist before then. 

It is thought artificially low incomes, where a father trained in a profession may have to worked an unskilled role when he comes to America, may account for the second-generation economic mobility. 

Language barriers and discrimination may also be a factor, in part.   

But a greater investment in education is not thought to be part of the cause, The New York Times reports. 

Where the immigrant chooses to live does, however, as they normally go to cities where it is easier to find work. 

The difference in their mobility rates all but disappears when the sons of immigrants are compared with the sons of US born dads who grew up in the same county. 

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