Center for American Progress

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Massachusetts’s Culture and Economy
Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: Assimilation Today – New Evidence on the Advancement of Immigrants in Massachusetts’s Culture and Economy

Read the report here.

Read the Fast Facts here. (pdf)

Listen to today’s press call here. (mp3)

Washington, D.C.—Immigrants in Massachusetts have proven much more successful at assimilating into the state’s economy and culture than many assume, with English proficiency, citizenship, and above low-income earnings exceeding the national average, regardless of when they came to the United States, according to a report released today by the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, Latino immigrants in Massachusetts also are advancing in the same categories—English, naturalization, and above low-income earnings—at rates above the national average for Latino foreign born.

As in Massachusetts, immigrants across the United States are assimilating at high rates, most notably in the areas of areas of homeownership and citizenship in the first 18 years of residency, and show high rates of advancement the longer they live here, according to new research based on U.S. Census Bureau data through 2008.

The findings are contained in the report, “Assimilation Today: New Evidence Shows the Latest Immigrants to America Are Following in Our History’s Footsteps,” by Dowell Myers and John Pitkin of the University of Southern California’s Population Dynamics Research Group. The basic research was supported by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to the USC team.

Among the key findings in Massachusetts:

  • Immigrants make up 14 percent of Massachusetts’s population, above the national average of 12.5 percent.
  • Massachusetts’s immigrants—including Latino foreign born—speak only English or speak English well, whether they arrived before 1990 or after 2000, well above the national average for immigrants. Latino immigrants, for example, have an English proficiency rate of 76.7 percent, 20 percentage points higher than the rate for Latino immigrants across the United States.
  • Citizenship rates in Massachusetts exceed the national average, with 68.9 percent of immigrants who arrived between 18 and 27 years ago becoming citizens.
  • Immigrants in Massachusetts have earnings above low-income levels at a rate exceeding the national average. Almost 77 percent of Latino immigrants who have been here at least 18 years earn wages above low income, a rate that is 17 percent higher than the national average for Latino foreign born who arrived during the same time frame.

The study refutes claims from immigration opponents who question immigrants’ contributions to U.S. society and economy, and shows robust integration by newcomers since 1990, regardless of their social or economic starting points.

“These findings affirm America’s history. Immigrants are not static in their assimilation. Despite claims to the contrary, history is repeating itself and today’s newcomers, like immigrants before them, are becoming tomorrow’s new Americans,” said Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress.

Many Americans believe immigrants are, like Peter Pan, forever frozen and never advance economically or socially, but “the data on immigrant advancement may be surprising and should help dispel the illogical Peter Pan fallacy,” write the authors.

The report uses key benchmarks such as naturalization to citizenship, homeownership, and earnings to measure assimilation. The assimilation rates can be found here.