Gordon Dahl, Christina Felfe, Paul Frijters, Helmut Rainer, 10 May 2020

Granting birth-right citizenship to immigrant youth has the policy goal of increasing assimilation and welfare.  But could it have unintended consequences if the parents value a more traditional outcome? This column uses a reform in Germany and survey data of school children to show that birth-right citizenship lowers life satisfaction and self-esteem for Muslim immigrant girls, but not boys. For these girls, it also results in family and career anxiety, reduced parental investments in schooling and language, less self-identification as German, and more social isolation.

Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, Marco Tabellini, 27 March 2020

From 1915 to 1930, 1.5 million African Americans moved from the southern US to northern urban centres. This column uses that shift as a historical case study, investigating how the appearance of a new migrant group affects the integration of previous generations of immigrants. It finds that the arrival of African Americans increased the effort exerted by Southern and Eastern Europeans to assimilate, but that Western and Northern Europeans, who were regarded as culturally closer to the native-born white population, had an easier time integrating. 

Graziella Bertocchi, Marianna Brunetti, Anzelika Zaiceva, 07 February 2020

The financial decisions made by immigrants are likely to differ substantially from those made by natives. Using data from a Bank of Italy survey, this column compares native Italian and immigrant households and shows that immigrants find themselves worse-off both in terms of wealth holdings and allocation across assets. These gaps can affect immigrants’ wellbeing, inhibit integration, and have consequences for the country’s financial markets.

Maggie R. Jones, 25 April 2019

Nearly 40% of documented new arrivals to the US in 2005 left within ten years, but who return migrates and why is often overlooked in policy debates regarding immigration. This column uses survey data and earnings records from 2005 to 2015 to show that a decline in earnings is a strong predictor of return migration. Those who stayed for the decade saw their wages reach parity with native-born workers, while those who left had seen a steep decline in wages in the years before departure. Further analysis shows that highly educated immigrants are more likely to leave the US within a decade of arrival.

Katherine Eriksson, Zach Ward, 06 August 2018

Those opposed to immigration often contend that immigrants are slow to assimilate. This column takes a longer-term view of assimilation by looking at the degree of ethnic spatial segregation in the US during and after the Age of Mass Migration. New methods and newly digitised data suggest that segregation in the US between 1850 and 1940 was both higher and more widespread than previously thought. However, despite slow rates of spatial assimilation, immigrants tend to assimilate culturally at a fast rate. 

Alberto Alesina, Armando Miano, Stefanie Stantcheva, 31 July 2018

The debate on immigration is often based on misperceptions about the number and character of immigrants. The column uses data from surveys in six countries to show that such misperceptions are striking and widespread. The column also describes how an experiment in which people were encouraged think about their perception of immigrants made them more averse to redistribution in general, suggesting that the focus on immigration in the political debate – without correcting the misperceptions respondents have about immigrants – could have the unintended consequence of reducing support for redistribution.

Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, Marco Tabellini, 17 June 2018

The ability of a state to accommodate diverse populations depends on how successfully immigrant groups can assimilate. The column use data from the south-north migration of 1.5 million African Americans between 1910 and 1930 to show that the appearance of other low-status groups can promote assimilation among pre-existing immigrants. The new low-status group makes existing immigrants appear less socially distant to natives. This suggests that assimilation policies that target native attitudes might as promising as interventions directed at immigrants.

Laurent Gobillon, Matthieu Solignac, 21 January 2016

Assimilation of migrants can be measured in various ways, one such measure being their access to the homeownership market. This column argues that the evolution of homeownership rates of immigrants is a complex process, with important selection effects. In France, the homeownership rate among northern African immigrants lags behind not only that of natives, but also southern European immigrants. A possible reason is discrimination against northern African immigrants not only on the labour market, but also on the credit and housing markets.

Francine Blau, Lawrence Kahn, Kerry Papps, 20 December 2008

This column shows that female immigrants’ labour supply reflects female labour supply in their country of origin. As more immigrant women arrive from countries with more traditional gender norms, the US female labour force participation rate may fall.

Esther Duflo, 04 December 2007

Resentment of immigrants is hard to explain on economic grounds, according to research on US data, and recent work on British data finds no real difference in assimilation rates between Muslim immigrants and other immigrants. Populist rhetoric may do more to create a rift than any religious or cultural feeling these immigrants have brought with them and transferred to their children.

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