Different success for different "minorities"

I was wondering whether different “minority” groups experience various levels of success in their adopted culture and, if so, what reasons would account for this disparity.

Is anyone aware of studies of the varying “success” of various “minorities” in terms of such things as education, income, public assistance participation, home ownership, incarceration, maybe even health and life expectancy? If differences exist, what are considered to be contributing factors?

For example, my non-expert opinion is that Asian immigrants seem to be very successful in terms of schooling. In the Chicago area, latin americans seem to represent a growing sector of the middle class, expanding into formerly white bastions like Cicero and the NW side. How do the prospects differ for an individual if he arrives penniless as a SE Asian immigrant, a Latin illegally passing the border, or a black born into a poor inner city family?

To what extent does such “success” result from assimilation, at the expense of a people’s native culture? And is that a good or a bad thing? Can lessons be learned from certain groups’ success and translated to other groups?

I would appreciate both American and non-American views on this.

In the UK the two major minority groups arrived after WWII. Beginning in the 1950s, most of the black population originated from the West Indies. In the 1960s & 70s the majority of immigrants were from the Indian sub-continent or were Asians kicked out of Uganda by Idi Amin.

If you were to judge success as assimilation into mainstream society my guess would be that the afro-Caribbean group has done better - though they still face many obstacles several generations on. They came from a predominantly Christian culture and many of their customs were not so different from the indigenous ones. The Asian communities on the other hand has remained much more separate. Most are either Hindu or Muslim and in other areas such as music they have had much less impact.

If you prefer economic success as a yard-stick then the Asian community wins hands down. Many, though by no means all, have managed not only to lift themselves out of the poverty many new immigrants suffer, but to positively thrive in the commercial world. You will also find a higher proportion of Asian lawyers, doctors etc. Why should this be? My guess (and it is a guess) is that it reflects what sort of colony their home country had been under British rule. The West Indies was mainly plantations and working for somebody else would be the norm for many. India on the other hand, was based on trade. The entrepreneurial spirit had existed there for centuries and the immigrants would have carried that with them.

Sorry to get picky, but you realize, don’t you, that “Asian” is a mighty broad term?

It simply won’t do to make blanket statements like “Asian immigrants are doing well.” The socioeconomic success of, say, Vietnamese-Americans, does not necessarily mean that Cambodian-Americans are thriving. And there’s tremendous variance WITHIN each Asian group, as well. Some Asian immigrant “success stories” involve people who were already middle-class in their homelands. A Korean doctor or an Indian engineer who comes to America and prospers should not be compared to an impoverished peasant from, say, Mexico.

I do NOT discount traits/values associated with certain ethnic groups as a factor in success. But it’s far too simplistic to suggest that somehow “Asians” are a “good” immigrant minority, and other ethnic groups that haven’t prospered to the same degree are necessarily at fault.

Thomas Sowell wrote a book called “Race and Culture” that addresses some of what you are asking about. It is a little dry and has alot of numbers but it is very thorough. It states that generally Chinese, Jewish, West Indian minorities do very well around the world. It has been several years since I read it so I can’t get more specific than that.

I notice, at least where I live (NW suburban Chicago) that immigrants who assimilate (i.e., speak and understand English) seem to do well. My husband works at a place that employs 95% Hispanics to 5% white. Those that have mastered English have moved up (probably not at the same pace as the white population) and those who don’t “conform” stay at the same menial labor job they started with. One woman has been catching product from a conveyor belt FOR 20 YEARS, and barely speaks enough English to request a vacation day.

Personally, I think language is the single most important factor in success in the U.S. And not just economic success…I’m talking education, living conditions, politics, healthcare, everything. I don’t think I could stand to live somewhere and not know what people were saying (and not be able to express myself!).:frowning:

The question is difficult to answer for many reasons.

  1. What is meant by “minority” and are you dishinguishing recent immigrants from minorities?

  2. What is meant by “success”? A certain percentage of the “minority” population over the poverty line? How many college graduates in each “minority group”? Acceptance from the “majority”? Assimulation into the main culture?

  3. Do individual successes (the lawyers and engineers) and failures (the criminals and the people on public assistance) outweigh or somehow mitigate the “success” or “failure” of the whole?

Are the Irish and Italians a minority? Hassidic Jews? Native Americans? Each group can be considered a success or a failure-- it matters how success is measured (and whether or not they are considered minorities).

I was not attempting to seperate recent immigrants from other pre-existing “minorities.” For example, I would consider US-born African-Americans and dark-skinned Carribean and African immigrants both minorities. Is one group more “successful” than others?

I am aware that the African American population is too large and diverse to accurately generalize about it as a whole, and I am certain that there are many success stories within that population. But it seems as though there also remain significant problems in terms of education, violence, and poverty in many black communities.

When you look at more recent immigrants, i suspect that certain ethnicities have been more “successful” (however you wish to define that term) than others. Some seem to assimilate themselves into the general culture. Others succeed while retaining varying degrees of their native culture and language, with a more insular approach.

I am also aware of the possibility that many of the “problems” concerning the black and hispanic populations, may merely reflect scale - there are simply so many more of them than other discrete ethnicities/cultures/races.

I was just wondering if people had access to info assessing the relative success of such populations, and hypothesizing on the explanations for any discrepancies that exist.

Many adult Chinese immigrants are college educated. I’m suspect this has something to do with the relative success of Chinese immigrants as compared to, say, illiterate Hmong refugees.

So, how are you measuring success? The members of the Hassidic community in my city own many buisnesses and many are financially successful. Many are also on public assistance. It is one of their goals to not assimulate fully into the culture.

Are they more or less successful than Italians, who have a larger high school drop out rate, are more evenly spread economically and have a much higher incarceration rate than the Hassid, yet are much more assimulated?
I think this could be a very interesting discussion. I’m just trying to define terms.

I’m afaid that I can’t think of any single measure of “success.” Among relevant factors I would suggest:

  • economic success - at least in terms of avoiding poverty
  • independence from public assistance and private charity
  • education achievement
  • lack of involvement in the penal system
  • health as reflected in such things as life expectency and infant mortality

In my mind, assimilation is somewhat down the list. Certainly not necessarily a primary goal. It is my experience that in America, part of the “dream” is for your children to have a better life than you. I suspect that most people would not dream that their children drop out of school and go to jail. So by that measure, yes, the Hassidics would be more successful, tho remaining insular.

I suggested the generational aspect. A consideration would be how many generations it takes for a people to become “independent” or “successful” in terms of the factors I suggest.

I have heard that among those from the Middle East, the ultimate measure of success is owning your own business, not working for someone else. It does not matter how small the business is. Hence the “7-11 owner” stereotype.