Assimilation, Education, and Declining Ethnic Distinction: An Empirical Test of New Assimilation

Christina Diaz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Assimilation theory was initially developed to describe how and why immigrants would assume the characteristics, traditions, and beliefs of native-born individuals. And while theories and empirical strategies have evolved over time, tests of assimilation continue to focus on immigrants, ignoring significant changes—both institutional and cultural—occurring within the host society. This project takes another approach. Specifically, I assess whether the American mainstream has expanded as a result of increasing immigrant populations. I draw on several waves of the School and Staffing Survey as well as state- and county-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the extent to which schools and school districts change their educational curricula, training, and resources due to a growing presence of migrants. By doing so, I look for evidence that a major U.S. institution has purposefully expanded its social and ethnic boundaries.

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Presented in Session 152: Social and Educational Effects of Migration on Host Societies