Second-generation Chinese and South Asian immigrants in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are more successful than third- and higher-generation whites, a University of Toronto study says.
Sociology professor Jeffrey G. Reitz and PhD candidate Naoko Hawkins and Heather Zhang from McGill University examined survey and census data to compare the achievements of immigrants and their children.
Their conclusion appears in the journal, Social Science Research.
“From a Canadian perspective, the findings are a welcome indication that the children of immigrants are doing well,” Reitz says on the U of T's site. “However, those who have attributed such success to distinctive Canadian integration policies such as multiculturalism will find their views refuted by the fact that similar success is experienced by the children of similar immigrants in the United States and Australia.”
Data from previous research showed that immigrants in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have varied degrees of success due to each country’s different educational and labour market institutions, Reitz said.
For instance, in the U.S., Chinese immigrants often have fewer years of education than the mainstream population; in Australia, they have more.
However, Reitz, Hawkins, and Zhang discovered in their study that these cross-national differences in immigrant success are largely eliminated for the second generation, many of whom outperform the mainstream population. For example, in all three countries, second-generation whites,
Afro-Caribbeans, Chinese, South Asians, and other Asians all have, on average, more education than higher-generation whites of the same age.
“The Chinese second generation in particular is much more educated,” Reitz said. “In the U.S., this group’s average number of years of education is about 15% above that of the mainstream population.
In Canada, this average is 20% higher than the mainstream’s; in Australia it is 17% higher.”
The team says that in all three countries, the number of second-generation Chinese and South Asians who work in managerial and professional occupations is nearly double that of the mainstream population of the same age.
“These findings raise questions about why inheritance of social class does not apply to immigrants in these countries in the same way that it does to the mainstream population,” said Reitz. “The answer may lie in the immigrant parents’ high education levels: despite the economic hardship they experience, many immigrants impart the value of education to their children, which in turn helps ensure their employment success," Reitz said.