An important policy question about immigration is to what extent the children of immigrants assimilate. Not only does this tell us a lot about the forces at play, but because of the numbers second generation immigrant outcomes help determine our future.
I just read an important new paper about immigration and assimilation in Europe, that (if the information in it is correct) contains surprising results. The paper includes data on employment rate of first and second generation non-European immigrants in the 3 major European countries of France, Germany and U.K (the 4th largest European country - Italy - has few non-European immigrants).
Looking carefully at the data in some of the tables, we can see that non-European immigrants in Europe are de-assimilating, with the second generation doing worse than the parents.
I focus on the share of immigrants that work compared to the natives, and only on non-European immigrants (we all know that European immigrants usually assimilate).
First the data confirms that both first generation and second generation immigrants in all 3 countries work much less than natives, both for men and women.
For women, the second generation is slowly assimilating. Whereas the first generation works 35% less than natives, the second generation works 27% less than natives, an improvement of 8 percentage points. (the figures are the non-weighted, arithmetic mean of the 3 countries, below I have put data in each one).
For men however the trend is the opposite. The second generation non-European immigrants are less likely to work than the previous generation! While the first generation work 10% less than natives, the second generation works 24% less, a deterioration of 14 percentage points.
So things are getting worse in the 3 largest European countries, not better. (The paper had no data on second generation immigrants to Sweden, but I am pretty sure they do better than the first generation).
Why is this happening? One reason may be that the first generation contains people who moved to Europe in order to work. Because they were selected on this trait, they have above average work ethic for their group. The second generation only has some of this advantage left.
Perhaps these are not actually parent-children pairs, and the only cause of the results is that the composition of first generation immigrants changed for the better before they had time to have children (I doubt this).
Another, more troubling possibility is that the second generation are assimilating into a completely new culture. This is not the standard, successful western-European culture, but a new kind of mixed ghetto culture that emphasizes grievances, hostility to the host society, weak norms and a lack of a work ethic.
What the trends suggests is happening that for men, the immigrant culture that has emerged in Europe is worse even than the culture they brought with them from Turkey, Algeria etc. Women instead are less oppressed, and work more than their mothers.
Comparing Second generation male immigrant relative employment rates with the first generation immigrants:
Comparing Second generation female immigrant relative employment rates with the first generation immigrants:
Employment rates (the figure in the parenthesis compared immigrants to the native born):
Native Men: 79.0%
First generation non-European immigrant Men: 67.8% (-14%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Men: 60.0% (-24%)
Native women: 66.5%
First generation non-European immigrant Women: 43.3% (-35%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Women: 53.5% (-20%)
Native Men: 66.3%
First generation non-European immigrant Men: 61.6% (-7%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Men: 53.0% (-20%)
Native Women: 58.9%
First generation non-European immigrant Women: 37.6% (-36%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Women: 42.4% (-28%)
Native Men: 75.3%
First generation non-European immigrant Men: 68.5% (-9%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Men: 53.9% (-28%)
Native women: 65.8%
First generation non-European immigrant Women: 42.5% (-35%)
Second generation non-European immigrant Women: 43.8% (-33%)