Streets of Gold
America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success
The facts, not the fiction, of America's immigration experience
Immigration is one of the most fraught, and possibly most misunderstood, topics in American social discourse--yet, in most cases, the things we believe about immigration are based largely on myth, not facts. Using the tools of modern data analysis and ten years of pioneering research, new evidence is provided about the past and present of the American Dream, debunking myths fostered by political opportunism and sentimentalized in family histories, and draw counterintuitive conclusions, including:
- Upward Mobility: Children of immigrants from nearly every country, especially those of poor immigrants, do better economically than children of U.S.-born residents - a pattern that has held for more than a century.
- Rapid Assimilation: Immigrants accused of lack of assimilation (such as Mexicans today and the Irish in the past) actually assimilate fastest.
- Improved Economy: Immigration changes the economy in unexpected positive ways and staves off the economic decline that is the consequence of an aging population.
- Helps U.S. Born: Closing the door to immigrants harms the economic prospects of the U.S.-born--the people politicians are trying to protect.
About this Author
Ran Abramitzky is professor of economics and the Senior Associate Dean for the Social Sciences at Stanford University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and a former co-editor of Explorations in Economic History. Weaving his family story together with extensive economic and historical data, Abramitzky's prize-winning book, The Mystery of the Kibbutz examines how communities based on income equality survived in Israel for over a century, and the conditions under which more equal societies can thrive.
Leah Boustan is professor of economics and director of the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University. She is also co-director of the Development of the American Economy Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and serves as co-editor of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Her prize-winning scholarly book, Competition in the Promised Land, examines the effect of the Great Black Migration from the rural South during and after World War II. She has written for The New York Times, The American Prospect, and Slate.
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