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A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate

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  • C. Simon Fan
  • Oded Stark

Abstract

The pursuit of migration is an extreme example of the severing of ties with, or a distancing from, one's friends and home. The 'failure' of migrants to assimilate cannot plausibly be attributed merely to an urge to stay close to their friends, or they might not have migrated to begin with. Non-assimilation arises from a fear of enhanced relative deprivation if they reduce their distance from the natives as a reference group. Fundamentally, migration is a change of those with whom people associate. But it would be wrong to infer that a change of associates crowds out a change of behavior, given the associates. Through their actions, migrants can elect to associate more with some groups, less with others. However, when actions to keep in check the weight accorded to the rich natives as a reference group are not viable, the very choice of migration destination could be affected in an unexpected way: a country that is not so rich could be preferable to a country that is rich; migrants will protect themselves from an unfavorable comparison by not migrating to where the comparison, when unavoidable, would be highly unfavorable. Relatedly, the variance in the assimilation effort of migrants across host countries could arise from the variance in the income distance with the natives: the richer the natives, the weaker the effort to assimilate, other things held the same. Copyright 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2007. "A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 55-63, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:60:y:2007:i:1:p:55-63
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2008. "Is the Melting Pot Still Hot? Explaining the Resurgence of Immigrant Segregation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 478-497.
    2. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    3. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
    4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    7. Borjas, George J & Bronars, Stephen G & Trejo, Stephen J, 1992. "Assimilation and the Earnings of Young Internal Migrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(1), pages 170-175, February.
    8. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of "Acting White"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 551-583.
    9. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-324.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2011. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 241-247, March.
    2. Oded Stark & Ewa Zawojska, 2016. "Will a government find it financially easier to neutralize a looming protest if more groups are involved?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 435-450, December.
    3. Stark, Oded & Dorn, Agnieszka, 2013. "Do family ties with those left behind intensify or weaken migrants’ assimilation?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(1), pages 1-5.
    4. Oded Stark, 2010. "Looking at the Integration of Nations through the Lens of the Merger of Populations: Preliminary Superadditivity and Impossibility Results," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 146(IV), pages 661-675, December.
    5. Stark, Oded, 2015. "Comparing the Global and Merged with the Local and Separate: On a Downside to the Integration of Regions and Nations," East Asian Economic Review, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, vol. 19(4), pages 325-355, December.
    6. Klaus Nowotny, 2011. "Welfare Magnets, Taxation and the Location Decisions of Migrants to the EU," WIFO Working Papers 393, WIFO.
    7. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin, 2013. "Migration networks as a response to financial constraints: Onset, and endogenous dynamics," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 1-7.
    8. Stark, Oded, 2013. "On the economics of others," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 62, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
    9. Junko Doi & Laixun Zhao, 2012. "Immigration Conflicts," Discussion Paper Series DP2012-29, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, revised Dec 2012.
    10. Peter Huber & Klaus Nowotny & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2010. "Qualification Structure, Over- and Underqualification of the Foreign Born in Austria and the EU," FIW Research Reports series II-008, FIW.
    11. Oded Stark & Walter Hyll, 2011. "On the Economic Architecture of the Workplace: Repercussions of Social Comparisons among Heterogeneous Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(2), pages 349-375.
    12. Julia Gelatt, 2013. "Looking Down or Looking Up: Status and Subjective Well-Being among Asian and Latino Immigrants in the United States," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 39-75, March.
    13. Stark, Oded & Bielawski, Jakub & Jakubek, Marcin, 2015. "The impact of the assimilation of migrants on the well-being of native inhabitants: A theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 71-78.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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