The fates of immigrant's children --- the new second generation -- will likely shape how to evaluate the current epoch of immigration. The 2000 Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) indicates that 1.62 million biological children, adopted children, or stepchildren under the age of 18 lived in families headed by their parent or parents in New York City in 2000. While New York City can be tough on any young person, regardless of where their parents were born, the children of immigrants face extra difficulties. First, only a third of New York City's 3 million households are families with related children under 18. Scholars speculating about second-generation trajectories have also worried that the larger social patterns of racial inequality and discrimination will force those children of immigrants who are not classified as white into the ranks of persistently poor native minorities. The census PUMS data provide only very limited information for assessing the educational outcomes of the new second generation.
Trajectories for the Immigrant Second Generation in New York City
1. INTRODUCTIONIt has become a truism to say that immigration has transformed American society since 1965. Beginning with "gateway" cities like New York and Los Angeles, the effect of new immigrants now extends to small pork- or chicken-processing towns in Iowa or North Carolina. Indeed, the March 2004 annual demographic supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) indicates that almost 12 percent of America's residents were born abroad, doubtless an underestimate. In places where first-generation immigrants concentrate, like New York City, immigrants now make up almost half the adult population-and in the case of Miami, more than three-fifths. This outcome has led scholars to undertake many studies of the new immigrants, for example, using individual traits to model individual earnings or looking at the school performance or health conditions of the children of immigrants.One leading researcher, George Borjas, has warned that the relatively low skill levels of recent immigrants bode poorly for their lifetime earnings and chances for upward mobility (Borjas 1990, 1999). Incorporating new immigrant ethnic groups also poses many other challenges, such as heightened tensions among ethnic and racial groups (Gerstle and Mollenkopf 2001 ). Despite problematic aspects of the effect of immigration, however, many observers, including this one, think that the new immigrants constitute a clear net plus for American society. Immigrants are "positively selected" from their populations of origin (Feliciano 2005). They pass a difficult test by resettling themselves and their families in the United States. They often take jobs natives do not want to perform, work hard for long hours, contribute a great deal of entrepreneurial creativity, and bring valuable cultural capital-qualities that their wages or other standards may not reflect immediately. While competition from immigrants may put some low-skilled natives, often members of minority groups, at a disadvantage in the labor market-and indeed highly skilled immigrants may compete against highly skilled natives-it seems to me that the strong work effort, relatively low labor cost, and varied talents of immigrants expand the overall economy and benefit most native-born people. Certainly, the official New York City position is that immigrants have prevented the city from becoming smaller, poorer, and more like Philadelphia (Lobo and Salvo 2004, p. xiv). Regardless of how...