Immigrant Economic Incorporation Essay

962 words - 4 pages

Sam Longnecker11/25/06Sociology of ImmigrationImmigrant Economic IncorporationIn 2003, the United States population included 33.5 million people born outside of the country; representing 11.7% of the U.S. population, and that number continues to grow. These 33.5 million immigrants living in the United States do not all come from the same place, rather they come from a wide variety of countries of origin that may differ economically, structurally, and socially. Just as the country of origin often differs between immigrants, so does their success at economic incorporation within the US. This could be for a number of reasons, including the level of human-cultural capital they bring with them, their immigration status, and the context of the social and economic structures of the society they enter. Another important factor of an immigrant's level of incorporation is that differences in class positions prior to migration leads to disparities in the amount of money one has when first arriving in America. Although each member of an immigrant group does not reach equal levels of incorporation, there are more visible differences in economic incorporation between the immigrant groups than within them.Essential to full assimilation and economic incorporation is the amount of human-cultural capital an immigrant brings with them from their home, and also the amount they accumulate while living in the United States. Whereas human capital refers to investments in education and the acquisition of job experience and skills that can make money and help one become incorporated, cultural capital emphasizes competence in cultural practices that can be switched to human capital. Both human and cultural capital refer to the learning and experience that one gains through formal and informal education. For an immigrant to arrive in this country with education and other forms of capital, it is most likely that that particular immigrant comes from a higher class background in the host country than the many immigrants who come to America, "First-generation newcomers from higher socioeconomic backgrounds are hence better educated on the average than immigrant groups from modest origins". According to the authors of America's Newcomers And the Dynamics of Diversity, education can be seen as an investment in the acquisition of skills that are necessary for a career, which would lead the accumulation of financial capital and in turn to economic incorporation. As is demonstrated in the readings, immigrants arriving in a new country with small amounts of financial and human-cultural capital are most likely to find employment in the ethnic economy, where there is less chance of social and economic mobility, and in turn less of a chance of incorporation. Whereas immigrants who arrive in the country with human-cultural capital that is relevant in the host society tend to gain employment in the broader mainstream economy, where incorporation is possible.A very important factor that...

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