Why children of immigrants are especially upwardly mobile

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.

3 Million Americans live outside the U.S.

One percent of Americans live abroad, compared to 7% of British, 5% of Germany, and 3.5% of French. From here.

There’s a dispute as to how many Americans live in Mexico. Do you count persons with dual citizenshhip?


U.S. and U.K. private refugee sponsorships inspired by Canada’s program

These United States and United Kingdom programs, both spawned out of response to Afghan and then Ukrainian refugee crises, are very limited compared to Canada’s.  They do not have any legal power to initiate refugee applications. They allow citizen groups to be formally recognized as part of the resettlement process.

United States:

In October 2021, the State Department worked with the Community Sponsorship Hub—a new nongovernmental organization (NGO) designed to expand sponsorship in the United States by focusing on program development and capacity building—to launch community support for refugees. This allows five or more Americans to come together to welcome Afghan refugees after receiving rigorous training. The successful trial of Sponsor Circles set the stage for the Uniting for Ukraine program, which launched in April and has led to an extraordinary increase in the number of sponsors. Source: Foreign Affairs Magazine.

See this New Yorker article

United Kingdom:

Community Sponsorship is a UK government-backed, volunteer-led refugee resettlement scheme. Inspired by the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, Community Sponsorship was introduced in the UK in 2016. The scheme enables groups of local volunteers to support a refugee family for their first year in the UK. It is eligible to those from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt who are displaced due to the Syrian crisis. (Wikipedia).

Canada’s private sponsorship program for refugees

Canada introduced private sponsorships during the wave of Southeast Asian refugees in the late 1970s. A large share of its refugee intake happens through this program. Go here. Private sponsors support a refugee for the sponsorship period, usually up to 1 year. The support includes start-up costs, such as furniture and clothing, on-going monthly costs for basic necessities, including housing, food, and public transportation, and supporting refugees socially and emotionally. (go here).

Who can sponsor a refugee?

Sponsorship agreement holders: These groups have a formal agreement with the department to sponsor refugees. Groups of five: This is a group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who live in the community where the refugees will settle. Community sponsors: This is an organization, an association or a corporation based in the community where the refugees will settle.

The sponsor will present the name of a refugee or refugee family it would like to sponsor. One of our officers will decide if a group has set up the supports it needs to be a sponsor.

This group trains private sponsors.

Congressional Budget Office growth of labor force entirely due to immigration through mid century

The CBO issued in July an outlook for the U.S. population through 2052. Here are some highlights:

Very little annual increase: The population increases from 335 million in 2022 to 369 million in 2052, an average 0.3% increase.

Fewer workers relative to old people: The number of people ages 25 to 54 to the number of people over 65 falls from 2.3 to 1 in 2022 to 1.7 to 1 and 2052.

Below replacement fertility rate:  before the 2008 recession, the rate as 2.02, below 2.1 replacement rate. In the future it will be 1.75.

Virtually flat workforce: the 25 – 54 population will grow from about 130 million to 135 million.

Immigration adds one million people per year. From other sources, the average age of recent immigrants in 30 vs the average age of Americans at 38.  This implies that immigrants may at 500,000 or more new workers per year, as the native born workforce declines.

The CBO report implies that without immigration the 25-54 year old population (prime working years) will decline by about 300,000 a year. With immigration, this population increases by about 200,000 a year.

African emigration

Pew Research in 2018 reported on the surge of migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and the United States:

Many plan to move to another country in the next five years (this was written in 2018). Among the six countries polled, the share with plans to migrate ranges from Senegal (44%), Ghana (42%) and Nigeria (38%) to Tanzania (8%).

The number of emigrants to anywhere from each of these sub-Saharan countries grew by 50% or more between 2010 and 2017, significantly more than the 17% worldwide average increase for the same period. At the country level, only Syria had a higher rate of growth in its number of people living in other countries.


Between 2010 and 2017, 970,000 sub-Saharan persons applied for asylum in Europe.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Europe’s sub-Saharan immigrant population was concentrated in just four countries: the UK (1.27 million), France (980,000), Italy (370,000) and Portugal (360,000)

The United States (2010- 2016 data)

In the U.S., those fleeing conflict also make up a portion of the more than 400,000 sub-Saharan migrants who moved to the States between 2010 and 2016. According to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. State Department, 110,000 individuals from sub-Saharan countries were resettled as refugees over this seven-year period. An additional 190,000 were granted lawful permanent residence by virtue of family ties; nearly 110,000 more entered the U.S. through the diversity visa program.

In 2019, there were 1.5 million sub-Saharan refugees in the U.S.  there were 2.1 million sub-Saharan people in the U.S. in 2019 (go here). This means that the Sub-Saharan population rose by over 25% between 2010 and 2019.

Hispanics are home buying in a big way

Hispanics are becoming an increasingly larger segment of the home buying population. I already posted on this here. Hispanic households are much less likely to be home owners compared to white households (about 48% vs 73%). But Hispanic household formation is higher resulting in the homeownership among Hispanics since 2000 has increased by almost double the rate of the total national homeowner population. The table below shows that 10% of homeowners today are Hispanic, compared to 6% in 2000.

Sources: here, here, here and here.

The new Nigerian diaspora

Nigerians have been studying and working in advanced English speaking countries since the early decades of the 20th Century. Long term or permanent migration was first to the U.K. In 2017 seven persons of Nigerian heritage were members of Parliament. More recently, migration to the U.S. grew at a faster rate than to combined U.K + Canada. Note that the graphic is of persons born in Nigeria, and does not include 2nd, 3rd generation Nigerians.

I have posted on Nigeria here, how they may be the highest educated immigrant group in the U.S.


Big role of U.S. in global work and study migration

The international migrant share of the world’s population is rising, standing at 3.6 percent in 2020, up from 3.2 percent a decade earlier, and 2.6 percent in 1960. (from the Migration Policy Institute, here).

The United States has 4% of the world’s population but 17% of all workers outside their country and 16% of all students outside their country.

The United States is the world’s top migrant destination: The country accounts for 5 percent of the global population but has attracted 18 percent of all migrants. The United States has more global migrants (more than 50.6 million as of 2020) than the next four receiving countries—Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United Kingdom—combined (50.2 million).

The number of international migrant workers stood at 169 million in 2019, or nearly 5 percent of the global workforce. The U.S. is host to about 29 million of them, or 17%

Close to 6.1 million students were studying outside their country of origin in 2019, up from 4.8 million in 2015 and 2 million in 2000. In that year, 1 million or 16% were in the United States. The top five destinations for international students were the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Russian Federation. The top five sending countries of international students in 2019 were China, India, Vietnam, Germany, and France.