Assessing Immigrant Assimilation: New Empirical and Theoretical Challenges
This review examines research on the assimilation of immigrant groups. We review research on four primary benchmarks of assimilation: socioeconomic status, spatial concentration, language assimilation, and intermarriage. The existing literature shows that today’s immigrants are largely assimilating into American society along each of these dimensions. This review also considers directions for future research on the assimilation of immigrant groups in new southern and midwestern gateways and how sociologists measure immigrant assimilation. We document the changing geography of immigrant settlement and review the emerging body of research in this area. We argue that examining immigrant assimilation in these new immigrant gateways is crucial for the development of theories about immigrant assimilation. We also argue that we are likely to see a protracted period of immigrant replenishment that may change the nature of assimilation. Studying this change requires sociologists to use both birth cohort and generation as temporal markers of assimilation.