America and its Immigrants: A Game of Mirrors
AbstractAfter a lapse of over half a century, the United States has again become a country of immigration. In 1990, the foreign-born population reached 19.8 million or 7.9 percent of the total. By 2008, the number had grown to 39.3 million or 13 percent of the total. Although not yet reaching the situation a century ago, when immigrants accounted for 15 percent of the American population, that figure is being approached fast while the impact of contemporary immigration is significant and growing.2 The public image of contemporary immigration has been colored to a large extent by the Third World origins of most recent arrivals. Because the sending countries are generally poor, many Americans believe that the immigrants themselves are uniformly poor and uneducated. Their move is commonly portrayed as a one-way escape from hunger, want, and persecution and their arrival on U.S. shores as not too different from that of the tired, "huddled masses" that Emma Lazarus immortalized at the base of the Statue of Liberty. A common exercise is to compare this "new" immigration with the "old" inflow of the beginnings of the twentieth century. Similarities include the predominantly urban destination of most newcomers, their concentration in a few port cities, and their willingness to accept the lowest paid jobs. Differences are more frequently stressed, however, for the "old" immigration was overwhelmingly European and white; while the present inflow is, to a large extent, nonwhite and comes from countries of the Third World.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Migration and Development. in its series Working Papers with number 1236.
Date of creation: Apr 2010
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aspirations; expectations; immigrants; adaptation; United States;
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- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-07-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-HIS-2010-07-17 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-MIG-2010-07-17 (Economics of Human Migration)
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