Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Approximately one-fourth of Latinos in Massachusetts are second-generation immigrants. This population is defined as having at least one foreign-born parent. Massachusetts has 216,964 second-generation Latino immigrants, which ranks fourteenth among states. However, second-generation Latinos represent a 25.5% share of all Latinos in Massachusetts, and this share ranks 35th among states. In comparison, 37.8% of all Latinos in California are second-generation immigrants. This lower share in Massachusetts is because Puerto Ricans, the largest Latino population in the Commonwealth, have birthright citizenship and therefore are not considered foreign-born.

The foreign-born have many reasons for migrating, but their children's future success is a strong motivation in migrating. Foreign-born Latinos have lower educational attainment and earn lower wages compared to other foreign-born in Massachusetts. Considering the socioeconomic status of their parents, it is surprising that many second-generation Latino immigrants have socioeconomic outcomes similar to the larger population in Massachusetts. This report examines a variety of characteristics among second-generation Latinos in Massachusetts to explore how they compare to other populations in the state: foreign-born, Non-Latino second-generation, and third-generation and above—the rest of the state—residents. Second-generation immigrants' success depends on their ability to integrate or assimilate within the broader society. Assimilation theory has been adapted over the last 100 years and traces itself to the early work of Robert Park, whose focus was primarily on race relations. Park developed a four-stage classical assimilation process: contact, conflict, accommodation, and assimilation. Milton Gordon further developed assimilation theory. His straight-line approach consisted of distinct stages that followed the acquisition of culture and language. First comes structural assimilation (close social relations with the host society), followed by large-scale intermarriage; ethnic identification with the host society; and ending prejudice, discrimination, and value conflict. Assimilation is seen a melting pot, in which settlement houses assisted in making America’s heterogeneous society more homogeneous.



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