by Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com
MAKATI CITY – Filipino immigrants have assimilated faster than other ethnic groups in the United States for the last 25 years according to “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation,” a study recently released by a New York-based think tank.
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research published findings of the report measuring immigrant assimilation based on census and other data to devise an assimilation index to measure the degree of similarity between the United States’ foreign-born and native-born populations.
“This is something unprecedented in US history,” reported author and Duke University Associate Professor of Public Policy Jacob Vigdor said, according to the Washington Post. “It shows that the nation’s capacity to assimilate new immigrants is strong.”
Filipino immigrants scored 49 out of 100 points on the assimilation index, well above the average 28 and falling second only to Canada which scored 53. Cuba followed with 43 points while immigrants from Korea and Vietnam scored 41.
The institute conducted research on immigrants from 10 countries where large numbers of them originate and the list includes China, India, Mexico, El Salvador and Dominican Republic.
It is said that the index provides the most detailed estimates to date of the assimilation levels of immigrant groups in the United States. Noted immigration scholar Stephan Thernstrom called the index, “an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the vital issue of immigrant assimilation.”
According to the institute, the index is a quantified measurement based on the comparison between foreign- and native-born people in three categories: economic, cultural, and civic factors.
The index included questions on civic factors, such as rates of US citizenship and service in the military; economic factors, such as earnings and rates of homeownership; and cultural factors, such as English ability and degree of intermarriage with US citizens. The higher the number on a 100-point index, the more an immigrant resembled a US citizen.
Immigrants from the Philippines, Canada, Cuba and Korea scored 100 points in the economic assimilation category. The economic index compares the labor force, educational attainment, and home ownership patterns of the foreign- and native-born.
For cultural assimilation, immigrants from Canada topped the poll with 100 points, with the Philippines and Vietnam following at 72 points, followed by El Salvador and Dominican Republic at 71. This was based on the ability to speak English, the number of marriages with those born in the US, the number of children, and marital status.
Immigrants from China, India, Korea and Vietnam showed a lower degree of cultural assimilation than Filipinos. Filipino immigrants are assimilating to the American society fairly quickly, ranking second in civic assimilation after Vietnamese immigrants.
The authors of the report said civic assimilation is to some extent an “even stronger indicator of immigrants’ intentions than cultural assimilation” as “the choice to become a naturalized citizen, or to serve in the United States military, shows a tangible dedication to this country.”
Immigrants from China, India, and Mexico showed relatively slow rate of assimilation, scoring below the average with 21, 16, and 13 points respectively.
The Mexicans, considered as the largest immigrant group in the United States today, is the least assimilated. This is a report finding that Howard Husock, vice president for policy research at the institute found “striking”.
In his article “The Assimilation Factor,” Husock said, “But the most striking finding is much less positive. The current overall assimilation level for all immigrant groups combined, measured on a scale of zero to 100, is, at 28, lower now than it was during the great immigration wave of the early 20th century, when it never went below 32. What’s more, the immigrant group that is by far the largest is also the least assimilated. On the zero-to-100 scale, Mexicans — 11 million emigrated to America between 1980 and 2006 — score only 13.”
They do assimilate, according to Husock, but “it’s extremely slow”.