The American Myth of Immigrants Pulling Themselves by Their Bootstraps

CHARLIE

[If your ancestors came to the US in the late 1800s or early 1900s (or if you’ve talked to someone whose ancestors came then), you probably think of them this way: they came to the US with nothing but the clothes on their backs, worked hard in low-paying jobs, learned English, moved up the income ladder, and made sure their children could do just as well in life as anyone else’s children.

But data from UCLA and Stanford researchers — with a big assist from Ancestry.com — shows the reality that many immigrants experienced might have been much more complicated, and much less in line with the American dream.

The researchers looked at the occupations immigrants held in 1900, versus the occupations natives had. (Natives were a lot more likely to be farmers, for example; immigrants were more likely to work as laborers, but also as managers.) They then compared the average incomes for each set of occupations. The result: as of 1900, immigrants were actually in higher-paying positions than natives in most states. In some states, immigrants were in occupations that paid as much as 20 percent (or even, in New Mexico, 40 percent) more than the occupations natives held.] Read the full article | VOX

Immigrants

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