Immigration and Incorporation

International migration is currently a major engine of social and demographic change.  People moving from one country to another leads to racial and ethnic diversity and generates economic, cultural, and political transformation in both sending and host societies. The full impact of these changes is unclear and controversial, often sparking emotionally charged responses. Penn State sociology faculty members and graduate students are engaged in collaborative research to set the record straight by accurately documenting and understanding the causes and consequences of immigration.

Inaccurate depictions of immigrants are widespread.  Our goal is to provide a highly accurate portrayal of immigration and integration processes by using existing data and “tried-and-true” statistical and spatial analytic techniques.  When existing data and methods are unavailable, we have been collecting new data or tapping existing data sources in innovative ways to extend our understanding of the immigrant experience.

Faculty Research

How are immigrants adapting to host societies, and how are host societies transformed by immigration?

  • How are children of immigrants’ educational expectations, aspirations and progress through school and the labor market shaped by the support or discrimination they encounter?
  • Why are some immigrant groups incorporating into the mainstream, others are being left behind, and still others are constructing their own pathways to success?
  • How is immigration transforming the racial and ethnic hierarchies, language, and culture in host societies?
  • How does immigrant incorporation affect transnational social networks?

What impact does legal status have on U.S. immigrants and their children?

  • How many unauthorized immigrants are there in the United States and what are their characteristics?
  • How much does unauthorized status adversely impact immigrants’ health?
  • How much does parental unauthorized status adversely impact the health and well-being of U.S.-born children of immigrants?

How does migration influence the health and well-being of immigrants and their children?

  • In the U.S., adult immigrants often have better health than non-immigrants.  Do children of immigrants share their parents’ health advantages?
  • What is the relationship between immigration and health in countries outside of the U.S.?
  • How does parental migration influence the health and well-being of children left behind in sending communities?
  • How does exposure to U.S. society change diet and obesity among children?

How are communities changed by immigration, and how do they shape immigrant integration?

  • How has immigration impacted “new destination” communities that are unaccustomed to immigrants and racial/ethnic diversity?
  • Over time and across generations, European immigrant groups have tended to move out of ethnically segregated neighborhoods.  Is this true for today’s more racially diverse immigrants?
  • In what ways do ethnic communities support and constrain immigrants’ opportunities?
  • How does out-migration affect communities in places of origin?