Which immigrant groups shift us toward a more educated society? The General Social Survey asked immigrants to America about their highest degree. I looked at the percent over age 25 who answered bachelors degree or higher:
Percent with bachelors degree or higher
East Indian 74.3
Native-born Americans 23.2
Puerto Rican 7.9
All groups are higher than native-born Americans except for Italians (this might surprise you) and Hispanics (which shouldn't surprise you if you read this blog). Mexicans immigrants are the largest of the immigrant groups and yet produce very few college graduates. We should welcome the handful and discourage the rest.
Some people think this low number is a temporary thing: Each new generation will do much better than its parents, they claim. While it is true that some of the children of these Mexican immigrants will finish college, a large number will at most finish high school.
I looked to see how far the children of Hispanic fathers with 4-year degrees go in school. It turns out that 42.2% of them at most finish high school. That is compared to 30% of the children of whites with a bachelors and 39.0% of blacks. In other words, Latinos who have finished college are more likely than their black counterparts to have children who grow the lower class. And if educated Hispanic immigrants produce this many low achieving kids, what about all those with only a few years of school?
Seventy-nine percent of Hispanic respondents have a father who finished high school or less (40.6% and 38.4%). Of those with a father who dropped out, 20.5% didn't finish high school themselves, and 56.0% did not go to college. The corresponding numbers for people with fathers who competed high school are 5.1% and 55.6%.
Put simply, very few Hispanic immigrants go to college, and it only improves a bit for their descendants. Let's face it: Latinos can be characterized as a working-class population with a few upwardly mobile folks on the one hand, and an underclass on the other. It is unlikely to change substantially, and constant swamping by new immigrants only exacerbates the situation.
Americans and Hispanic communities themselves have been ironically blessed by the economic downturn: as USA Today tells us, fewer illegals are now coming. Maybe I'll vote for the candidate who will deepen and extend the recession as long as possible!
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