Joel Perlmann

  • One-Pager No. 59 | April 2019
    Some common accounts of “populism” and its causes risk leading us away from understanding what is happening today in parts of the democratic West, according to Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann. He cautions that economic insecurity may well be a common source of populism, but such insecurity is too prevalent and too diverse to be tied primarily to massive international economic shifts. Cross-national explanations are of limited utility; we need to look more closely at the intermingling of political, ethnic, and cultural themes operating in national contexts in order to better understand particular outbursts of popular discontent.
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  • One-Pager No. 58 | November 2018
    What's New?
    The Trump administration is facing a legal challenge to its efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census—a question that was first included in 1890, but has not been asked of the entire population since 1950. If the citizenship question was asked in the past, why not reinstate it? Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann explains how the characteristics of both immigration and the census itself have changed radically since 1890 and, as a result, how the inclusion of this question on the once-a-decade census would not only be redundant, but would threaten the integrity of the census count.

  • Book Series | April 2018
    From Ellis Island to the 2020 Census
    America Classifies the Immigrants In America Classifies the Immigrants: From Ellis Island to the 2020 Census (Harvard University Press, 2018), Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann traces the evolution of thinking about “race” and “ethnic groups” in America. Beginning with the 1897 “List of Races and Peoples” through the proposed 2020 changes for the US Census, Perlmann examines the shifting ideas about racial and national differences that shape our social and legal policies.

    Published by: Harvard University Press
  • Policy Note 2015/8 | December 2015

    This policy note examines the formulation and reformulation of questions deployed by the US Census Bureau to gather information on racial and ethnic origin in recent decades. The likely outcome for the 2020 Census is that two older questions on race and Hispanic origin will be combined into a single question on ethno-racial origin. The authors welcome these changes but suggest that this may also be an opportune time to drop the “race or origin” label from this new, unified question. They also argue for modest and readily implemented modifications to capture valuable information on parental birthplaces in the American Community Survey. This information would support our ability to measure the social and economic well-being of the population and thus better understand the trajectory of demographic groups over time.

    This policy note is accompanied by Working Paper No. 857, “Ethno-Racial Origin in US Federal Statistics: 1980–2020,“ in which the authors explore these issues in greater detail.

  • Working Paper No. 857 | December 2015

    This paper describes the transformations in federal classification of ethno-racial information since the civil rights era of the 1960s. These changes were introduced in the censuses of 1980 and 2000, and we anticipate another major change in the 2020 Census. The most important changes in 1980 introduced the Hispanic Origin and Ancestry questions and the elimination of two questions on parental birthplace. The latter decision has made it impossible to adequately track the progress of the new second generation. The change in 2000 allowed respondents to declare origins in more than one race; the anticipated change for 2020 will create a single question covering race and Hispanic Origin—or, stated more broadly, race and ethnic origin. We show that the 1980 changes created problems in race and ethnic classification that required a “fix,” and the transformation anticipated for 2020 will be that fix. Creating the unified question in the manner the Census Bureau is testing will accomplish by far the hardest part of what we believe should be done. However, we suggest two additional changes of a much simpler nature: restoring the parental birthplace questions (to the annual American Community Survey) and possibly eliminating the Ancestry question (the information it gathered will apparently now be obtained in the single race-and-ethnicity question). The paper is historical in focus. It surveys how the classification system prior to 1980 dealt with the tension between ethno-racial continuity and assimilation (differently for each major type of group); how the political pressures producing the changes of 1980 and 2000 changed the treatment of that tension; and, finally, the building pressure for a further change.

  • Working Paper No. 648 | January 2011

    This paper discusses support for, and opposition to, racial classification of European immigrants among high-level researchers at both the United States Immigration Commission of 1907–11 (the Dillingham Commission) and the Census Bureau during those same years. A critical distinction must be made between the Commission members—political appointees who mostly supported some form of restriction at the time of their appointment—and the top research staff, whose views were remarkably wide ranging. Moreover, even staff members committed to a racialized outlook—such as Daniel Folkmar, author of the Commission’s infamous Dictionary of Races and Peoples—deserve a closer look than historians have given them; for example, Folkmar and his superior on the staff had requested commentary from Franz Boas, who was then emerging as the most prestigious academic critic of racial theories (theories that assume group differences in behavior arise from biological endowments). Another feature of the narrative concerns the surprising number of staff who transferred from the Commission to the Census Bureau to work on the 1910 Census. Debates continued at the Bureau as well, this time over how to present the results of the new “mother tongue” question, which had been introduced to the Census questionnaire in response to pressure for a European “race” question. Indeed, Folkmar was also the chief author of the Census Bureau report on the mother-tongue data.

  • Working Paper No. 646 | December 2010
    Blending Across Four Generations of German-Americans

    New data from the IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) project permit an exploration of the demographic basis for ethnic survival across successive generations. I first explore the degree of ethnic blending among the grandchildren of early- to mid-19th-century German immigrants; second, these descendants’ own marital choices; and third, the likely composition of the fourth generation to which they would give birth. Fundamental questions include: How high is the rate of single versus mixed origins after so many generations in America? How large an absolute number of single-origin individuals remain (given the combined impact of out-marriage, on the one hand, and cumulative fertility, on the other)? How much less likely are single-origin individuals of the third generation to in-marry relative to those in the second generation? And how do all these patterns differ across 31,000 local geographic areas? I exploit the full-count 1880 Census dataset and the Linked Representative Sample, which captures males in 1880 as well as in one of the 1900–30 enumerations. Limiting attention to those who were adolescents in 1880, we have three generations’ worth of ethnic information on each sample member traced across time (birthplace as well as parents’ and grandparents’ birthplaces, from their parents’ responses) and ethnic information covering two generations for the women they eventually married.

  • Working Paper No. 633 | November 2010
    New Evidence in the Debate about the Creation of Second Generation Educational Outcomes in Israel

    There is much interest in explaining the persistent ethnic gaps in education among Israeli Jews; specifically, the much lower attainments of those from Asian and African countries compared to the rest—Mizrahim vs. Ashkenazim, respectively. Some explanations (especially early ones) have stressed premigration immigrant characteristics, particularly the relatively lower level of educational attainment among Mizrahim. More recent interpretations have tended to focus on discrimination of various sorts that took place after the immigrants arrived in Israel. Crucial evidence for the discriminatory effect was introduced by Yaakov Nahon (1987), who demonstrated a shift toward a Mizrahi-Ashkenazi dichotomy in educational attainment between birth cohorts of adult immigrants and birth cohorts of adults born in Israel. From this evidence, a wide range of scholars concluded that the premigration educational characteristics of immigrants could not explain Israeli educational patterns, and that, consequently, the explanation based on discrimination was thereby greatly strengthened.

    In this paper, we use the 1961 Israel census public-use dataset to refine Nahon’s analysis. Instead of using age cohorts as proxies for “fathers” and “children,” we focus on actual fathers and their children. Our results vary substantially from Nahon’s. In fact, we find that the educational attainment of immigrant fathers clusters quite closely around the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi dichotomy, and conclude that it is no longer reasonable to rule out the premigration hypothesis. This outcome leaves researchers with a more challenging explanatory task than before, because they are now faced with the notoriously difficult situation of having to determine the relative influence of premigration characteristics, on the one hand, and of discriminatory processes, on the other.

  • Working Paper No. 526 | December 2007
    A Reanalysis of American Jewish Committee Surveys

    American Jewish opinion about the Arab-Israel conflict matters for both American and Israeli politics as well as for American Jewish life. This paper undertakes an analysis of that opinion based on American Jewish Committee (AJC) annual polls. Recently, the AJC made the individual-level datasets for the 2000–05 period available to researchers. The paper focuses on opinion about the future of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), because survey questions on that topic are relatively straightforward. Standard background variables (religious, cultural, political, and demographic) are all seen to be modestly related to opinion about the West Bank (in simple crosstabulations and multivariate analysis). However, with the exception of Orthodoxy, no factor is dramatically connected to particular opinions. Also, despite evidence of a positive association between age and emotional attachment to Israel, age is also positively associated with a willingness to accept proposed West Bank changes. Finally, a generalized concern about security seems to account for some of the diversity of opinion about the West Bank unexplained by the standard background variables.

  • Working Paper No. 508 | July 2007
    An Assessment of Sample Quality

    The American Jewish Committee (AJC) surveys of Jewish opinion are unique both in being conducted annually and in the subject matter covered. This paper assesses the quality of these samples. I first summarize my earlier findings on the implications of limiting a sample to respondents who answered “Jewish” when asked a screening question about their religion. I then explore how well the AJC samples actually represent the chosen target population of Jews by religion. That exploration rests on public use datasets available for five recent AJC survey years. Outcomes from these five datasets can be compared to one another as well as to outcomes from public use datasets of two other recent national surveys of Jews, especially on the demographic characteristics of the respondents. The paper finds some larger-than-expected differences among AJC samples, and between these and the other two types of datasets. Finally, the paper considers the extent to which these differences matter for the substantive analysis of American Jewish opinion.

  • Working Paper No. 507 | July 2007
    Surveys, Operational Definitions, and the Contemporary American Context

    The old ways in which surveys of Jews handled marginal cases no longer make sense, and the number of cases involved is no longer small. I examine in detail the public-use samples of the two recent national surveys of Americans of recent Jewish origin—the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) and the American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS)—and also explore the implications for the American Jewish Committee annual surveys of Jewish political opinion. When Jews are defined by the question “What is your religion, if any?” the effect is not primarily to eliminate secular or culturally oriented Jews. However, large majorities of the children of intermarriage will fail to reply “Jewish.” Accordingly, the paper turns to two competing procedures for treating respondents of recent Jewish origin who do not report themselves to be Jewish by religion. The core Jewish population includes respondents who answer that they have no religion. I find this procedure problematic because the meaning of the “no religion” response has also changed: it no longer captures people with close connections to the Jewish world who deny the religious connection out of principle. Yet two out of three are the products of intermarriage. I tentatively suggest an alternative principle: self-identity. Americans of recent Jewish origin who are not Jews by religion should be asked (as they were in the 2000–01 the NJPS) whether they consider themselves Jewish for any reason. Those that reply in the affirmative should be counted as Jews. The paper examines the proportions of people affected by limiting surveys of American Jews to Jews by religion, and the results of using one or another procedure for deciding who else is a Jew. As an example, some demographic outcomes are tabulated using different definitions, as are responses to the question “How close do you feel to Israel?”

  • Working Paper No. 501 | May 2007
    A Comparison of the NJPS and AJIS

    While there have been very few national surveys of American Jews, two that we do have are from the same period, 2000–01. They were conducted by different researchers using different sampling methods. Known as the NJPS and the AJIS, these surveys are now available as public-use datasets, but they have not yet been systematically compared. This paper first describes what modifications in sample composition must be made to meaningfully compare the surveys’ results. Then it reviews basic demographic and cultural orientations of respondents; on most measures, the samples are quite similar. The paper stresses that both surveys can be thought of as samples of Americans of recent Jewish origin; and in both surveys, a large minority of people have both Jewish and non-Jewish origins (typically as the products of parental intermarriage). Many of these respondents do not report themselves Jewish by religion; indeed, many declare that they are Christians. One notable feature of the surveys is that the AJIS sample includes modestly more people of Jewish origin who do not identify themselves as Jewish by religion today. The paper concludes by urging the importance of asking all respondents who did not declare themselves Jewish by religion the question, “Do you consider yourself Jewish in any way?”

  • Working Paper No. 497 | May 2007
    The Current Situation and a Proposal for a New Approach

    This working paper takes up three related themes. In section 1, I briefly describe the issues relevant to surveying American Jews and highlight the importance of authoritative national surveys; in section 2, I note that these surveys have not included much exploration of American Jewish divisions over Israeli and American Middle East policy. In section 3, I propose the rudiments of a sample design that would meet the traditional needs of the national survey as well as the political opinion poll. This design is based on a rotating national panel of respondents, somewhat like the US government’s Current Population Survey. At the same time, data from earlier panels can be combined to increase sample size for the study of sociocultural issues that are less immediate in nature. Readers who are primarily interested in the issue of polling political opinion about Israeli and American Middle East policy may wish to read only sections 2 and 3. Those primarily interested in the proposal for a national survey based on a rotating panel may wish to read only section 3.

  • Working Paper No. 473 | August 2006
    An Overview

    This paper calls attention to the American Jewish periphery—Americans of recent Jewish origin who have only the most tenuous connections, if any, with those origins. This periphery has been growing to the point that there are now, for example, nearly a million Americans with recent Jewish origins (origins no farther back in time than the nuclear family in which they were raised) who report that they are Christians. The paper focuses heavily on the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) of 2000. First, the dataset provides us an excellent dataset on "Americans of recent Jewish origin." Second, it provides us with a great deal of information about the ethnocultural trajectories of those Americans, as shown in the social and cultural characteristics of NJPS respondents. Finally the paper considers some of the (sometimes bitter) discussions about the NJPS as a cultural phenomenon indicative of an ethnic group grappling with widespread intermarriage: specifically, the discussions about which NJPS respondents should be recognized as full-fledged Jews, and which should be thought of as having drifted too far to be so defined. I also draw on the experience of other ethnocultural groups for illumination as to how these groups have dealt with a legacy of widespread intermarriage.

  • Working Paper No. 465 | August 2006
    This working paper concerns the local origins of Russian-Jewish immigrants to the United States, circa 1900. New evidence is drawn from a large random sample of Russian-Jewish immigrant arrivals in the United States. It provides information on origins not merely by large regions, or even by the provinces of the Pale of Settlement (where nearly all Russian Jews lived), some 25 in number; rather, most analysis is conducted in terms of some 230 districts that made up the administrative subdivisions of provinces. The sample evidence is coordinated with district-level data from the detailed publications of the 1897 Census of the Russian Empire. Finally, all of this evidence has been entered into digitized maps.

  • Working Paper No. 458 | July 2006
    This paper describes a small opposition group that functioned during 1930–33 on the left fringes of Ben Gurion's Mapai party in Palestine. Mapai dominated Jewish Palestine's politics, and later the politics of the young State of Israel; it lives on today in Israel's Labor Party. The opposition group, probably no more than a dozen active individuals at the outset, was comprised mostly of young adults, recently arrived from the Soviet Union or Poland. They put out a series of pamphlets, Reshimot Sozialistiyot (Socialist Notes), apparently held some public meetings and sought some minor party offices as well. These activities, and especially the pamphlets troubled Ben Gurion and the other party leaders. The leadership discussed the opposition group on 10 separate occasions at their private official meetings during 1932. They invited the opposition for an extensive clarification of views, and then insisted that the members cease functioning as an organized group. When that insistence failed to stop the publications, the leadership published a decree (written by party ideologue, B. Katznelson) expelling each of them from Mapai by name. The opposition's critique of Mapai revolved around the balance of internationalism inherent in socialism and nationalism inherent in Zionism. The party reaction showed 1) specific features of ideology that were unacceptable even to this eclectic party; 2) the leadership's concern for control and for disciplined followers; and 3) the nature of leadership discussion and behavior in regard to expulsion.

  • Book Series | December 2005
    Immigrant Origins and Second-Generation Progress, 1890–2000. By Joel Perlmann
    Italians Then, Mexicans Now

    According to the American dream, hard work and a good education can lift people from poverty to success in the “land of opportunity.” The unskilled immigrants who came to the United States from Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries largely realized that vision. Within a few generations, their descendants rose to the middle class and beyond. But can today’s unskilled immigrant arrivals—especially Mexicans, the nation’s most numerous immigrant group—expect to achieve the same for their descendants? Social scientists disagree on this question, basing their arguments primarily on how well contemporary arrivals are faring. In Italians Then, Mexicans Now, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann uses the latest immigration data as well as 100 years of historical census data to compare the progress of unskilled immigrants and their American-born children both then and now.

    The crucial difference between the immigrant experience a century ago and today is that relatively well-paid jobs were once plentiful for workers with little education, while today’s immigrants arrive in an increasingly unequal America. Perlmann finds that while this change over time is real, its impact has not been as strong as many scholars have argued. In particular, these changes have not been great enough to force the second generation of today’s Mexican immigrants into an inner-city “underclass.” Perlmann emphasizes that high school dropout rates among second-generation Mexicans are alarmingly high, which is likely to have a strong impact on the group’s well-being. Yet despite their high dropout rates, Mexican Americans earn at least as much as African Americans, and they fare better on social measures such as unwed childbearing and incarceration, which often lead to economic hardship. Perlmann concludes that intergenerational progress is a reality—though it is likely to be slower than it was for the European immigrants a century ago—and could be enhanced if policy interventions are taken to boost high school graduation rates for Mexican children.

    Rich with historical data, Italians Then, Mexicans Now persuasively argues that today’s Mexican immigrants are making slow but steady socioeconomic progress and may one day reach parity with earlier immigrant groups whose descendants were able to move up into the heart of the American middle class.

  • Working Paper No. 376 | April 2003
    Intermarriage Patterns

    This working paper continues earlier efforts to compare the experiences of today's second-generation Mexican Americans with those of second-generation members of major immigrant groups of a century ago. Here the focus is on intermarriage. Contemporary data comes from 1998-2001 CPS data sets and historical data from the IPUMS data sets for 1920 and 1960. As in earlier papers, the precise definition of the relevant second-generation members is an important dimension of the work. In this paper the definition of outmarriage is important as well. The major conclusion is that outmarriage of second-generation Mexican Americans may seem low in absolute terms, but is comparable to the outmarriage rates for second-generation Italians at roughly similar stages of that group's adjustment to American society. Appendices take up questions such as evidence on the ethnic composition of the mixed second generation (native-born of mixed parentage) as revealed in earlier CPS data sets.

  • Book Series | November 2002
    Edited by Joel Perlmann and Mary C. Waters
    The New Race Question: How the Census Counts Multiracial Individuals

    The change in the way the federal government asked for information about race in the 2000 Census marked an important turning point in the way Americans measure race. By allowing respondents to choose more than one racial category for the first time, the Census Bureau challenged strongly held beliefs about the nature and definition of race in our society. The New Race Question is a wide-ranging examination of what we know about racial enumeration, the likely effects of the census change, and possible policy implications for the future.

    Published by: Russell Sage

  • Working Paper No. 350 | July 2002
    US Ethnic School Attainments across the Generations of the 20th Century

    This paper relies on data from the census and the Current Population Survey (CPS) to compare levels of education attained by second-generation young people from important immigrant groups during the last great wave of immigration and by second-generation Mexican Americans today. In addition, it provides evidence, based on the CPS, about the earnings relative to level of schooling of the Mexican American second generation today.

  • Working Paper No. 343 | February 2002
    Immigrant-to-Native Wage Ratios, 1910 and 1940

    A good deal of recent discussion among social scientists concerned with immigration is about the disadvantages faced by immigrants who enter the American labor force with much-lower levels of skills than those possessed by the typical native white worker. Among contemporary immigrant groups, by far the most important example is the Mexicans. The challenges faced by such an immigrant today are often contrasted with the challenges faced by low-skilled immigrants who entered the U. S. during the great immigration wave of 1890-1920—most notably Poles, other Slavs, and Italians. In articles published at the end of 2001 in the New York Review of Books, Christopher Jencks drew on research by George Borjas to argue that the wage ratios of Mexicans compared to relevant US workers today were far worse than the comparable wage ratios of "new" immigrants compared to native white workers in 1910. Jencks argues for a reconsideration of immigration policy, especially regarding Mexico. This paper explores the nature of the early evidence in detail. A good deal of ambiguity is involved in the materials, but tests made to date do not contradict Jencks?s conclusions about wage ratios during the earlier immigration. The paper draws evidence from IPUMS census datasets from 1900, 1910, 1940, and 1950.

  • Working Paper No. 335 | August 2001
    Schooling and Teen Motherhood As Indicators of Strengths and Risks

    This paper stresses that the key to concerns about the progress of second-generation Americans is the fate of the Mexican second generation. It compares several indicators of the advances of second-generation Mexicans to those of non-Hispanic, native-born blacks and non-Hispanic, native-born white attainments. The analysis relies on the most recent available evidence from the CPS data of 1994-2000. Patterns of educational attainment are ambiguous, which suggests that the Mexican pattern and resembles that of older immigrant laboring groups of the past, who traded extended schooling for work. Patterns of teen and young-adult unwed motherhood, labor force attachment, and poverty suggest that to date the Mexican and black patterns do not converge. The male-female ratio among the groups underscores the point. The paper also argues that evidence on contemporary third-generation Mexican-Americans is largely irrelevant to expectations about the descendants of the current Mexican immigrants. The paper concludes with an argument that these data do not point clearly to second-generation decline; nevertheless, it also shows that if such decline is expected, there are ways to read these data, that would produce such a result.

  • Working Paper No. 333 | June 2001
    Birth Cohorts of Southern-, Central- and Eastern-European Origins, 1871–1970

    Past-present comparisons of second-generation progress are often plagued by vague references to the baseline, the past. This essay seeks to contribute some specificity to the understanding of second generations past for the sake of comparison and as a contribution to historical understanding in its own right. First, it defines the older second-generation groups that make for theoretically meaningful comparisons. It next determines when these relevant second-generation members grew up and the magnitude of each ethnic birth cohort. Finally, the essay calls attention to important shifts in the social composition of second-generation cohorts that have not been studied systematically before (when indeed noticed at all). Specifically, over time, the proportion of immigrant parents who arrived as children, arrived after the mass migration, or married a native-born American varies immensely. Such compositional shifts should interest those who study contemporary as well as past immigration, since these shifts will appear in some fashion in any immigration. The study also analyses Stanley Lieberson's work with ethnic cohorts in A Piece of the Pie, and confirms his fundamental conclusion.

  • Working Paper No. 320 | January 2001
    Federal Race Classifications for Europeans in America, 1898–1913

    In 1898, the United States Bureau of Immigration initiated a classification of immigrants into some 40 categories of "race or people." Nearly all the categories covered Europeans. In 1909 an effort was made to extend this system of classification to the US Census, and the relevant measure passed in the Senate. From the outset, organizations representing a segment of American Jews strongly opposed the measure, although not on the grounds of racism. But other groups of immigrants, including Jews, strongly supported the new racial classification of Europeans for the census. A compromise replaced the proposed new race question with a "mother-tongue" question. The paper explains the origin and development of the classification system and the ensuing controversy; extensive verbatim transcripts (in which participants argue their conception of race in the context of other terms) and unpublished letters constitute the basic sources. The "race or people" classification was immensely important in its own right, since our knowledge of the socioeconomic characteristics of immigrants in the first half of the 20th century is organized in terms of that classification. But the topic is interesting for much broader reasons: discussion of a seemingly narrow and technical matter, namely a statistical classification scheme, illuminates the meaning of race for the debaters and sheds light on the dynamics of ideas, bureaucracy, and organized opposition to official procedures.

  • Working Paper No. 312 | August 2000
    Italian-Americans through Four Generations

    This paper presents a new approach to measuring the extent of intermarriage among Americans of different ethnic origins. Using Census Bureau microdata and CPS data, measurements of the rates of Italian-American intermarriages across four generations are made to demonstrate that these rates were not merely high following the immigrant generation, but that even low estimates of intermarriage rates will produce high proportions of descendants of mixed origin. Extended asides show (1) how high proportions of Italian-immigrant men could in-marry despite the severe gender imbalance in the immigrant population, and (2) the importance of studying the proportion of immigrant arrivals who came to this country as children and the ambiguous generational status not just of these individuals (the '1.5 generation') but of their children ('2.5'?). Finally, the paper concludes by emphasizing the significance of the results for assimilation among past and future immigrants, the concept of generations, and current-day projections about the future racial composition of the United States.

  • Working Paper No. 240 | July 1998

    In this new working paper, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann discusses cultural, structural, and contextual explanations of segmented assimilation among the children of immigrants. In it he addresses a number of questions about modes of incorporation as an explanation for ethnic differences in behavior—what, for example, is the status of cultural explanations for ethnic behavior if ethnic behavior is approached from a modes-of-incorporation perspective? The author asks this question both in connection with individuals of the immigrant generation and in connection with the second generation; the concern with the second generation leads him to consider the status of cultural explanations for ethnic behavior in connection with the related conception of segmented assimilation.

  • Working Paper No. 230 | March 1998
    Studying the Demographic Outcomes of Ethnic Intermarriage in American History

    Little research has been done on the role of intermarriage in the blending of peoples in the American past, and even less has been done on the effect of past intermarriage on the ethnic identity of today's Americans. Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann sees value in studying intermarriage to show fault lines in society (social distance is larger across some divisions than others) and to examine the effect intermarriage ultimately has on assimilation. Perlmann asks, Is it assimilation that causes intermarriage or intermarriage that causes assimilation? As he sees it, the causality works in both directions: weakened ethnic allegiances are a source of intermarriage and intermarriage weakens ethnic allegiances./P>

  • Public Policy Brief No. 35 | October 1997
    Multiracials, Racial Classification, and American Intermarriage

    On the United States' census form, American citizens are told they may list any ethnic ancestries with which they identify, but are instructed to “mark one only” in the question on race. Joel Perlmann asserts that it is in the public interest to allow people to declare themselves as having origins in more than one race. To do otherwise is to deny that interracial marriages exist. This denial distorts our understanding of race data whether we are discussing projections of the composition of the American population or the definition of racial and minority status involved in discrimination legislation, affirmative action, and hiring and firing practices. If racial barriers are to be broken down, racial intermarriage should be treated in the same way any other form of ethnic intermarriage is treated, while ensuring that civil rights legislation, which rests on racial classification and counts, is not hobbled by ambiguities.

  • Public Policy Brief Highlights No. 35A | October 1997
    Multiracials, Racial Classification, and American Intermarriage
    On the United States' census form, American citizens are told they may list any ethnic ancestries with which they identify, but are instructed to "mark one only" in the question on race. Joel Perlmann asserts that it is in the public interest to allow people to declare themselves as having origins in more than one race. To do otherwise is to deny that interracial marriages exist. This denial distorts our understanding of race data whether we are discussing projections of the composition of the American population or the definition of racial and minority status involved in discrimination legislation, affirmative action, and hiring and firing practices. If racial barriers are to be broken down, racial intermarriage should be treated in the same way any other form of ethnic intermarriage is treated, while ensuring that civil rights legislation, which rests on racial classification and counts, is not hobbled by ambiguities.

  • Working Paper No. 200 | August 1997
    Past, Present, Future

    This paper takes a doubting, though friendly, look at the hypotheses of "second generation deciine" and "segmented assimiiation" that have framed the emerging research agenda on the new second generation. Research Associate Roger Waldinger, of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann begin with a review of the basic approach, outlining the logic of argument, and specifying the central contentions. They then head toward the past, in search of material that will illuminate both the parallels and points of distinction between the immigrant children who grew up in the first half of the 20th century and those who will move into adulthood during the century to come. Last, they return to the present, inquiring both into the characteristics of those children of immigrants who might find themselves at risk, and the precise source of any such peril.

    Associated Program:
    Roger Waldinger Joel Perlmann

  • Working Paper No. 195 | June 1997

    How the census of 2000 is to count “multiracial” people is a hot topic in Washington. A federal task force presented a draft of its recommendations in July, and the Office of Management and Budget, after hearing reactions, will make a final ruling in late October. As immigration and intermarriage increase, this issue is becoming more important not only for the Census Bureau, but also for every government agency that counts race and every civil rights case. Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann examines the current methodology, discusses proposed reforms, and concludes that the Census Bureau should allow respondents to declare multiple racial ancestries.

  • Working Paper No. 182 | December 1996
    A Reanalysis of Census Data

    Researchers exploring Jewish literacy have traditionally ignored the Russian Census of 1897 on the grounds that it underreported Jewish literacy. Most have felt that the low literacy percentage reported for Jews could not possibly be accurate and therefore scholars have ignored the value of the Census as a research tool. In a study that compares the results of the 1897 Census with the 1926 Soviet Census, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann concludes that the 1897 Census is more accurate than past scholars have acknowledged.

  • Working Paper No. 181 | December 1996
    Explanations of Jewish Economic Mobility in the United States and New Evidence, 1910–1920

    Researchers have long sought explanations for the success of Jews who migrated to the United States at the turn of the century in attaining middle-class status. East European Jews arrived in the United States at the same time as many other ethnic groups between 1880 and 1920, yet achieved economic success far faster. In the search for an explanation, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann draws on data from the 1910 and 1920 US Censuses, which allow for comparison among ethnic groups. One explanation offered for Jewish mobility is that the skills of Jewish immigrants—the industrial skills acquired as artisans and craftsmen—matched the needs and opportunities in the American economy at the time they immigrated.

  • Working Paper No. 174 | November 1996
    Comparisons and Refinements

    Recent discussion and some preliminary research have given a negative prognosis for children of immigrants. Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann and Roger Waldinger, professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, examine 1990 Census Public Use Samples (PUMS) to determine if conditions for the children of immigrants are as poor as indicated. They are particularly interested in second-generation Mexicans as Mexicans constitute the largest group among immigrants and the group most uniformly composed of workers who are unskilled or semiskilled and have relatively little education or capital. Given that Mexican immigrants make up such a large proportion of all immigrants, the authors want to find out if the Mexican experience differs from that of all other immigrants, because if it does, it may affect the data in ways that misrepresent the experience of all non-Mexican immigrants.

    Associated Program:
    Joel Perlmann Roger Waldinger

  • Working Paper No. 172 | October 1996
    The Occupations of the Jewish Immigrants to the United States, ca. 1900

    The upward mobility of Jews who migrated to the United States at the turn of the nineteenth century has been explained as a function of premigrational cultural characteristics (such as a tradition of learning) or premigrational structural attributes (skills in certain industries and occupations that could be applied in the new country). In this working paper, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann does not discount either of these explanations, but suggests that more attention should be paid to the rapid rate of entry of Jews into trade.

    What, other than selective migration, might explain the variations in occupational representation among immigrants? Did immigrants lie about their occupation upon entry to the United States? Did the method of reporting change from one year to the next? Did immigrants report the occupation they had practiced in their country of origin or the occupation into which they wished to gain entry upon arrival?

    To answer these questions, Perlmann first examines the claim that immigrants misreported their occupation. He then examines the passenger list data for internal reporting consistency over time, checks the consistency of this source against the US Immigration Commission's reports, and compares the passenger list data to reports on stated occupations among the same population at a later time (the 1910 US Census). The passenger list data appear to be internally consistent, at least for male occupations. However, the occupational mix taken from the passenger list data does not appear to be consistent with the data of either the Immigration Commission or the Census, while those two sources are more consistent with each other. The Immigration Commission and Census data indicate that Jewish immigrants working in manufacturing in the United States had at least some prior experience in trade in their native country, which lends some credence to the structural idea that the upward mobility of Jewish immigrants in trade was at least in part the result of prior skills in trade itself (rather than that their work in manufacturing provided Jewish immigrants with the basis for entering trade).

  • Working Paper No. 168 | June 1996
    The Second Generation and Beyond, Then and Now

    Assimilation of today's immigrants is one topic in the current debate on immigration. Some observers assert that recent immigrants are unable to assimilate into American society as easily as past immigrants were able to. Others counter that the pressures against assimilation today are not strong. In this working paper, Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann and Research Associate Roger Waldinger, professor of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles, argue that assimilation cannot be studied as an outcome alone, but should be viewed as a process, aspects of which are important in their own right.

    Associated Program:
    Joel Perlmann Roger Waldinger

  • Working Paper No. 148 | November 1995

    The question of central bank independence is one of degree. A completely independent central bank is impossible as long as a country has provisions for altering central bank powers, even if that requires constitutional amendments. On the other hand, any central bank has at least some discretion in monetary policy unless it is either in the pocket of a dictator or required by mandate to follow a mechanical rule, such as the central bank in Argentina where monetary policy is effectively determined by the currency board.

    In the United States and many other countries, people question the degree of central bank independence, often citing the need to better insulate central bankers from pressure to serve either the political motives of government officials or the financial interests of private individuals and organizations. This school of thought argues that the central bank should be left alone to pursue one monetary policy goal: price stability. It is feared that either government officials with too much influence over central bankers or laws setting inappropriate priorities for them undermine this independence. The Federal Reserve already enjoys a good measure

    Associated Program:
    Roger Waldinger Joel Perlmann

Publication Highlight

Public Policy Brief No. 157
Is It Time for Rate Hikes?
The Fed Cannot Engineer a Soft Landing but Risks Stagflation by Trying
Author(s): Yeva Nersisyan, L. Randall Wray
April 2022

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