Demographic Characteristics of Third-Generation Asian Americans: Socioeconomic Attainments and Assimilation

Isao Takei, University of Texas at Austin
Arthur Sakamoto, University of Texas at Austin

Using data from recent Current Population Surveys, this study compares third-and-higher generation with earlier-generation Asian Americans and non-Hispanic whites in terms of socioeconomic characteristics and demographics. The findings suggest a "third-generation decline or flattening" for Asian American and white men as well as Asian American and white women. For each of these groups, the mean of years of schooling among the 2.5 and third generations is lower than among the first and second generations. This pattern is most pronounced among Asian Americans. As for wage determination, the generational differentials can be explained by educational attainment and other basic demographic variables. Overall, these results suggest that assimilation beyond the first generation immigrants no longer improves socioeconomic attainments as expected by traditional assimilation theory. Furthermore, in the case of Asian Americans, cultural assimilation across the generations may actually lower educational attainment and thereby reduce wages contrary to traditional assimilation theory.

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Presented in Session 156: Immigrant Generations