Migrants quick to adopt culture
A Today
May 13, 2008


Although Mexicans assimilate slower than others, study says

The nation's immigrants are adopting American ways just as quickly as they were in 1990 despite a doubling in their numbers, according to research.

The findings released today suggest, however, that Mexicans, the largest immigrant group, are making slower progress than other groups.

Calculations by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a libertarian think tank, are among the most detailed so far to measure how well immigrants fit in with native-born Americans on three fronts: economic, cultural and civic.

The index used census data from 1890 to 2006 to measure current and historical similarities between natives and the foreign-born.

"Mexicans and other Latin Americans are assimilating slowly," said Jacob Vigdor, a Duke University associate professor of public studies and economics who devised the index.

The level of assimilation typically drops during times of high immigration because there are more newcomers who are different from native-born Americans.

It happened between 1900 and 1920, when the immigrant population grew 40 percent, a much slower rate than the recent wave.

Yet the rapid growth since 1990 has not caused as dramatic a decline in assimilation, Vigdor says.