Pinoys Assimilate Faster

by Momar Visaya/

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.”

Assimilation Index

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”.


1 Comment

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One response to “Pinoys Assimilate Faster

  1. This is a very interesting article given Western society’s propensity for politically correct thought and research publication…

    I find myself asking however, “By what ‘standard’ and ‘context’ to we consider one ‘integrated’ into another country? Indeed, this is the very nature of contextual integration to begin with!

    Does a survey, (imperical as it may be), hold enough contextual ‘truth’ to convince individuals that cultures outside their own, have sufficiently (or insufficiently) integrated into their native society? I suspect without personal experience in support of a survey’s published results, most would disregard the claim and understandably question what it means to be successfully
    integrated’ in the first place.

    Take for example, Toronto, Canada, (listed as the top integration destination and ironically my home city of over 35-yrs)… Toronto is a city that boasts of it’s successful integration with more cultures than any other on the planet. However, it only takes a quick tour through the city, to see that most people have chosen to seperate themselves into ‘cultural community pockets’ and prefer not to venture outside those pockets unless necessary. The question remains then – would those whom have very little contact with Pinoy community of Toronto say they feel the same sense of integration? Conversley, would those from the Pinoy community find themselves enjoying the ‘integration experience’ if integration meant constant contact with the Italian, or Greek, or Black community pockets of Toronto? Though the boundaries are not enforced by law, social integration in Toronto remains a problem for each culture – including those who are native to Toronto!

    To be clear, each city, region and country struggles with its definition of ‘successful’ integration. China believes, as the USA believes, as Canada believes, as Russia believes, as… (well you get the picture) that their definition and policies toward social cohesion are without parallel. Each of these countries also provide a long list of published survery results ‘proving’ this to be ‘true’.

    This is not to say however that we disregard the critical need for movement towards social integration, be it in Toronto or anywhere else in the world! This is to say however, that history has taught us time and time again, cultural barriers are easily errected, tough to change, and are for the most part, accepted in Western society so long as they don’t intefere with our own cultural barriers.

    The challenge then is this: What ultimate objective is achieved by the publication of how succesfully integrated we are? It would be my hope that one day such discussion is not needed as we tackle bigger societal issues that require each culture to work in harmony. I fear however that most Western societies are becoming more like Canada – a nation divided by nations!

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