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Published in: Society 2/2016

01-04-2016 | Feature Article

Immigration: The Cultural Dimension

Author: Lawrence M. Mead

Published in: Society | Issue 2/2016

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Abstract

The immigration debate has ignored effects on American culture. The United States has become a multicultural society, which is good, but rapid immigration threatens to turn it into a mainly Latin American and Asian country. That would undermine the individualist culture, derived from Europe, that is essential to American world leadership. Damage to the society’s dynamism and civility is already apparent. Immigration must be cut by half and other steps taken to promote assimilation.

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Footnotes
1
The following statistics come from “Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 million to U.S.., Driving Population Growth and Change Through 2065” (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, September 28, 2015). The population shares omit Native Americans.
 
2
“The new white minority,” The Economist, August 23, 2014, p. 22.
 
3
Lizette Alvarez, “A Growing Stream of Illegal Immigrants Choose to Remain Despite the Risks,” New York Times, December 20, 2006., p. 26; Roberto Suro, “Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy: Surveys among Latinos in the U.S. and in Mexico” (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, August 16, 2005), pp. 13–15.
 
4
The following contrast draw on many authors, among them Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values: (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1980); Ronald Inglehart and Wayne E. Baker, “Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values,” American Sociological Review 65, no. 1 (February 2000): 19–51; Richard E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . and Why (New York: Free Press, 2003).
 
5
Nisbett, The Geography of Thought, primarily contrasts American culture with that of East Asia. Yet Nisbett wrote me in a private e-mail that it is still plausible to see a general contrast between “the West” and “the rest.”
 
6
Two recent examples: Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable, Breaking the Immigration Stalemate: From Deep Disagreements to Constructive Proposals (Washington, DC: Brookings; Durham, NC: Duke University, Kenan Institute for Ethics, 2009); Mary C. Waters and Marisa Gerstein Pineau, eds., The Integration of Immigrants into American Society (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2015.
 
7
Time, January 2, 1989, pp. 106–7.
 
8
Waters and Pineau, Integration of Immigrants, p. Sum-7.
 
9
Lionel Sosa, The Americano Dream: How Latinos can Achieve Success in Business and In Life (New York: Dutton, 1998), p. 2.
 
10
OECD Family Database, chart SF1.2A.
 
11
National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2014 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2014), table 5. These unwed childbearing figures are higher than for children living in single-parent families because some single mothers later acquire new partners.
 
12
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), chap. 4.
 
13
Samuel P. Huntington, Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), chap. 9.
 
14
Earl Shorris, Latinos: A Biography of the People (New York: Norton, 1992), chap. 14.
 
15
Ann Coulter, Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2015).
 
16
Roberto Suro, “Attitudes toward Immigrants and Immigration Policy: Surveys among Latinos in the U.S. and in Mexico” (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, August 16, 2005), pp. 13–15.
 
17
Peter Skerry, Mexican Americans: The Ambivalent Minority (New York: Free Press, 1993).
 
18
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. Henry Reeve (New York: Knopf, 1980), vol. 1, pp. 191–8; vol. 2, pp. 106–10.
 
19
Shorris, Latinos, p. 408.
 
20
Robert D. Putnam, "E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century: The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture." Scandinavian Political Studies 30, no. 2 (June 2007): 137–174.
 
21
Paul Collier, Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
 
22
Tom W Rice, and Jan L. Feldman, “Civic Culture and Democracy from Europe to America,” Journal of Politics 59, no. 4 (November 1997): 1143–72; Eric M. Uslaner, “Where You Stand Depends Upon Where Your Grandparents Sat: The Inheritability of Generalized Trust,” Public Opinion Quarterly 72, no. 4 (Winter 2008): 725–40; Guido Tabellini, “Institutions and Culture” (Milan: Bocconi University, Institute for Economic Research, September 2007).
 
23
Waters and Pineau, Integration of Immigrants.
 
24
Jacob L.Vigdor, “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States, 2nd ed.” (New York: Manhattan Institute, October 2009. Cultural assimilation would be still lower if education were included in cultural rather than in economic assimilation, as I would favor.
 
25
Peter H. Schuck, “Birthright of a Nation,” New York Times, August 13, 2010.
 
26
Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 2, p. 133.
 
Metadata
Title
Immigration: The Cultural Dimension
Author
Lawrence M. Mead
Publication date
01-04-2016
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Society / Issue 2/2016
Print ISSN: 0147-2011
Electronic ISSN: 1936-4725
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12115-016-9986-7

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