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Resisting the melting pot: The long term impact of maintaining identity for Franco-Americans in New England

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  • MacKinnon, Mary
  • Parent, Daniel

Abstract

Approximately 1million French-Canadians moved to the United States, mainly between 1865 and 1930, and most settled in neighboring New England. In 1900 almost a fifth of all persons born in French Canada lived in the U.S. These migrants exerted considerable efforts to maintain their language and to replicate their home country institutions, most notably the schooling system, in their new country. For decades, this resistance to assimilation generated considerable attention and concern in the U.S. The concerns are strikingly similar to those often invoked today in discussions of immigration from Hispanic countries, notably Mexico. Mexicans may not be assimilating into mainstream America as European immigrants did. We look at the convergence in the educational attainment of French Canadian immigrants across generations relative to native English-speaking New Englanders and to European Roman Catholic immigrants. The educational attainment of Franco-Americans lagged that of their fellow citizens over a long period of time. By the time of the 2000 Census, they appear to have largely achieved parity. The effects of World War II, especially military service, were very important in speeding up the assimilation process through a variety of related channels: educational attainment, language assimilation, marrying outside the ethnic group, and moving out of New England. Economic assimilation was very gradual because of the persistence of ethnic enclaves.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 49 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 30-59

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:1:p:30-59

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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Keywords: Convergence in educational attainment; Ethnic enclaves; Assimilation;

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References

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  1. Green, Alan & Mackinnon, Mary & Minns, Chris, 2005. "Conspicuous by their Absence: French Canadians and the Settlement of the Canadian West," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(03), pages 822-849, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel Parent, 2009. "Intergenerational Progress in Educational Attainment when Institutional Change Really Matters: a Case Study of Franco-Americans vs. French-Speaking Quebeckers," Cahiers de recherche 0917, CIRPEE.
  2. Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2011. "Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 195 - 227.

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