I have posted here on research showing that for many generations immigrant families have been relatively more upwardly mobile than strictly U.S. born families. The authors of the studu have written a book, “Paved in Gold,” which states the case in lay-accessible language. A recent book review in Foreign Policy by Reihan Salam, the president of the Manhattan Institute, summarizes the findings into reasons for superior upward mobility:
First, because immigrants are by definition less tethered to a given U.S. locale than native-born Americans, who may have deep, multigenerational roots in their communities, they are more open to moving in search of opportunity. As a result, immigrants tend to settle in more opportunity-rich cities and neighborhoods, which gives their children a leg up. This is true even when opportunity-rich communities are more expensive, as immigrants are more amenable to living in multifamily housing, which is cheaper….
Second, the apparent mobility advantage experienced by children of immigrants stems from the disadvantage of their immigrant parents, who Immigrants, and particularly recent immigrants, often confront obstacles….The children of immigrant parents are “upwardly mobile” relative to their parents’ actual earnings in the U.S. labor market, but not nearly as much relative to their parents’ capabilities, which parents can pass on to their children in a number of ways.
Third, sociologists of immigration refer to the “class-specific resources” of immigrant parents who were raised in the upper strata of their home countries, i.e., the cultural practices, social networks, and narrative self-understandings that can help their children climb the occupational and social ladder.