Social scientists are devoting increasing attention to second-generation children for insights into the long-term consequences of immigration for American society. However, there is considerable disagreement over the operational criteria that should be used to determine membership in the second generation. Using the Public Use Microdata Sample of the 1990 U.S. Census, this study examines several issues. First, the implications of different operational criteria for descriptive analyses that focus on the size and composition of the second-generation child population are considered. We then assess whether different operational strategies have implications for multivariate analyses, especially those that focus on language skills. The results indicate that a key decision for most studies, except those that focus on socioeconomic composition, is how foreign-born children are classified. Foreign-born children should not be combined with native-born children on the grounds that they comprise the "de facto" second generation. Instead, researchers should make distinctions between the "decimal" generations to avoid obscuring diversity within the child population.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science