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3. All Asia 13. Turkey

4. Greece 14. Russia and Poland

5. France 35. Bulgaria

6. Germany 16. United States, native parents

7. Scandinavia 17. United States, foreign parents

8. Austria-Hungary 18. United States, mixed parents

9. Canada 19. Australia
10. Rumania 20. Serbia

" Laughlin Report, p. 738.







T'niterl States, native parents


United States, mixed parents

United States, foreign parents


All Asia


Great Britain

11. Italy

12. France

13. Grece

14. Germany

15. Scandinavia
IG. Turkey

17. Russia and Poland
IS. Bulgaria

19. Ireland

20. Serbia

1. Switzerland

2. Ireland
o. Germany

4. Scandinavia

5. Great Britain

6. Canada

7. Austria-Hungary

8. United States, native parents

9. United Stales, forei.uu parents
10. United States, mixed parents

11. France

12. Russia-Poland

13. Rumania

14. Japan

15. Italy

16. Turkey

17. All Asia

18. Greece
39. Bulgaria
20. Serbia

1. Scandinavia

2. France

3. Switzerland

4. All Asia

5. Greece
(3. Austria-Hungary

7. Germany

8. Canada

9. Italy

1. Switzerland

2. Germany

3. Austria-Hungary

4. Great Britain

5. United States, native parents

6. Canada

7. United States, mixed parents


10. United States, native parents

11. Turkey (European)

12. Ireland

13. Russia-Poland

14. Rumania

15. Great Britain

16. United States, foreign parents

17. United States, mixed parents


8. United States, foreign parents

9. Italy

10. Ireland

11. All Asia

12. Russia-Poland

13. Scandinavia

14. Greece


1. Austria-Hungary

2. Italy

3. All Asia

4. Russia-Poland

5. Scandinavia

6. United States, mixed parents

7. United States, foreign parents

8. United States, native parents

9. Switzerland

10. Germany

11. Gi-eece

12. Canada

13. Great Britain

14. France

15. Turkey

16. Ireland




United States, native parents





United States, foreign parents

Great Britain

United States, mixed parents

11. Scandinavia

12. France

13. All Asia

14. Italy

15. Russia-Poland
10. Greece

17. Turkey

18. Ireland

19. Bulgaria

20. Serbia''

'8 Not all Laiighlin's entries are included, and Negroes are exclinied so
refers to native white.

I hat "Native'


A candid examination of these rankings will reveal that, whatever their
intrinsic value, they do not show any consistent order of superiority or in-
feriority among the various nations. Furthermore they certainly do not show
that the new nationalities can, in any sense conceivably be said to rank below
the old nationalities. All the inferences of the Lauglilin report must therefore
be categorically rejected.


The studies that have here been examined have a historical interest insofar
as they contributed to the adoption of tiie national-origins quota system which
is stili a part of American immigration legislation. By giving governmental
and quasi-scientific validation to existing prejudices against the new immi-
grants, they helped to justify the discriminations against them in the laws
of 1921 and 1924.

But these studies no longer have the slightest scientific value. In the last
quarter century new investigations by scientists, detached from the pressure of
the immediate problems of immigration, have uncovered a good deal of infoi-ma-
tion relevant to the matters touched on in the Dillingham and the Lauglilin
reports. They have dealt more adequately with the problems of race, with
the course of immigration through American history, with the nature of the
economic and social adjustments of immigrants, and with the extent to which
intelligence, education, crime, insanity, and other social disorders vary among
diverse groups of our population. Large areas of this subject, of course, still
remain open for investigation ; and at some places the evidence is inconclusive.
But enough data is available to give a fresh orientation to the ideas within
which the future of immigration will be considered, lieexamination of American
immigration policy should involve not only an understanding of the fallacies
upon which the old laws rest, but also a comprehension of the new view upon
which forward-looking legislation might he based. In the following account
a very brief summary will be given of the generally accepted conclusions bearing
upon the place of immigrants in American life.

1. The nature of race

A useful summary of the points upon which there is a general consensus of
opinion was prepared for UNESCO in a statement on race by a group of dis-
tinguished biologists, psychologists, and social scientists in 1950. Its main
points furnish a strategic beginning for this discussion. These follow.™

Mankind is essentially one, descended from the same common stock. The
species is divided into a number of populations or races which differ among
each other in the frequency of one or more genes, which determine the heredi-
tary concentration of physical traits. Those traits are not fixed, but may
appear, fluctuate, and disappear in the course of time. It is presently possible
to distinguish three such races, the Mongoloid, the Negroid and the Caucasoid,
but no subgroups within them can be meaningfully described in physical terms.
National, religious, geographic, linguistic, and cultural groups ao noc coincide
with race ancl the cultural and social traits of such groups have no genetic
connection with racial traits. There is no evidence of any inborn differences
of temperament, personality, character, or intelligence among races.*"

If this statement be accepted, then the only meaningful terms In which one
can compare the social and cultural traits of groups is in terms of the ethnic
group, which preserves its continuity to the extent that its culture passes from
generation to generation through a common social environment. The inheri-
tance of an ethnic group consists not of its biological traits but of its culture."

2. Immigration and the ethnic groups in American life

Ethnic groups have played a particularly important role in American history.
In the United States, the Government has always left large areas of social
action free for tbe activities of voluntary organizations. Without any compul-
sion toward uniformity, individuals have been free to associate with one another

'"A convenient version is in Ashley Montagu, Statement on Race (New York, [1951]).

*" Tlie following works contain useful discussions of these jioints : Anthony Barnett,
The Human Species (New York, 1950) ; William C. Bovd, Genetics and the Races of Man
(Boston, 1950) C. S. Coon, S. M. Gam, and J. B. Birdsell, Races (Springfield, 1950).

^ The Boas report on bodily forms whicli made this point (above), has not been
significantly criticized since and has been supported by other more recent data. See Franz
Boas, Race, Language, and Culture (New York, 1940), pp. 28 ff., fiO ff. M. S. Goldstein,
Demographic and Bodily Changes in Descendants of Mexican Immigrants (Austin, 1943),
p. 16.


in roliuaous, social, pliilaiitliroiiic. cultural, and econouiic organizations through
which they ol'ten prt'servc ihc distiiicl ive (litfcri'nccs that si'parate thoui from
other Americans. Those differences may originate in any one of a number of
factors: religion, for instance, is the basis of identification among such groups
as the Mormons or Q lakers. P.ut one of tlie most important means tlirough
which these differences appear is througli inunigration which brings to this
country men of diverse cultural antecedents.

Immiijfration has therefore always played a central role in the formation of
American culture. From the first settlements to our own times, this process
has been involved with the shaping of the distinctive institutions under which
we live.

The most important contributions to the understanding of this process in
recent years have been those which emphasized its continuity, demonstrating
that the kinds of iieoph' who arrived in the seventeenth centui-y were not sub-
stantially different from tlu).se who came in the eighteenth or in the nineteenth
or in the twentieth. Althoxigh each of the ethnic groups which came to the
New World had its distinctive cultural and social life, the process that brought
them all Mas the same. Their social origins and their motives were always very
much alike.

In the face of these contributions it is no longer possible to .speak of meaning-
ful distinctions between settlers and immigrants or between old and new
immigrants. Englishmen, Germans, Italians, and Poles all spoke different lan-
guages, had different customs, and were accustomed to different forms of be-
havior. But the kinds of Englishmen who came to the United States in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were very much the same as the kinds of
Irish, Germans, and Scandinavians who came in the middle of the nineteenth,
and these in turn were very much like the Italians, Jews, and Poles who came

Very largely all these immigrants were people di.splaced b.v economic changes
in the structure of modern agriculture and industry. With the growth of popu-
lation and with the mechanization of industry and agriculture, large numbers
of artisans found their handicrafts useless and even larger numbers of peasants
found no place for themselves on the land. These were the people to whom op-
portunity beconed in the New World. The generating economic changes began
in England and spread to the east ; that accounts for the difference in the era
at which various peoples began to migrate. But the process was one and

In di.scu.s.sing the process of adjustment to life in the United States, it is
therefore necessary to take account of both similarities and differences among
the groups involved. To some extent, the qualities of the cultural heritage seem
to influence the course of that adjustment. But more important seem to be the
nature of the opportunities open to the immigrant and the length of time his
adjustment has taken. In no case does the line between old and new seem

3. The economic adjustment

Properly or not, discu-sion of the problems of immigration has often focused
on the nature of the effects uijon the economy. The Immigration Commission
devoted the bulk of its labors to this subject : and for some Americans this has
been the decisive aspect of the questipn. Scholarly studies have thi'own con-
sideralile light upon the effects of immigration on depressions, on wages, on
occupati(»nal stratificati(m and mobility, and on economic innovations.

(a) Imm if/rat ion mul depressions. — It was once feared that immigration
which added new hands to the labor supply might contribute to the severity of
depressions. The evidence of the depression that followed upon the panic of
1920, points in the other diiection. In the early lO.'JO's the volume of unemploy-
ment remained high and the d(>pression intense despite the complete curtailment
of immigration. These phenomena depended upon the more general fluctuations
of the business cycle rather than upon a single factor, immigration.

Furthermore studies of the period of free migration down to 1!)24 have indi-
cated the likelihood that inunigration may actually have eased the effects of
depression. Tlie volume of immigration then seemed to rise sharply during
periods of prosperity and to sink rapidly in Jieriods of depression. This lent
fluidity to the labor supply, enabling it to expand when more hands were needed

*= Sep the followinff works: Abbot E. Smith. Colonists in Bondage (Chapel Hill, 1947) ;
M. li. Hansen. Atlantic Migration (Cambridge, 1941).
^ See also Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (Boston, 1951).


and to contract when they were not.^ The conclusion is clear that immigration
is not liliely in this respect to be a danger in the future.

(b) Immigratmi and wages. — Through much of tlie period of free immigra-
tion tliere was fear its effects would be to drive wages down. There were some
grounds for this fear. As a theoretical proposition it seems likely that the
effect of adding to the supply of labor would be to drive down its cost. Further-
more, through much of the period of free immigration, the average real wages
of labor, particularly of unskilled labor, fell or were stationary.'"

If the question is examined more closely, however, the relationship of immi-
gration to labor will assume another appearance. To use an over-all average of
labor, particularly of unskilled labor will not tell us much about the effects of
immigration on the earlier labor force, because the immigrants themselves
constituted a large part of the sample. Eliminating the unskilled labor of the
immigrants themselves, it seems the more skilled labor of the natives was not
adversely affected. Furthermore, the coming of the immigrants by broadening
the range of opportunities at the top of the occupational ladder seems actually
to have lifted the older labor force to higher job levels and thus to have increased
their income. As long as the whole economy was expansive, therefore immigra-
tion probably raised rather than lowered the wage level of the existing labor

In the more recent past, with wages largely determined by collective bargain-
ing, the decisive element in the determination of wage rates seems to have been
the state of labor organization in any given industry. When the opportunity
has ben afforded them, immigrants have shown their readiness to join unions
in defense of their interests as workers." Given the continued capacity of our
economy to expend in the future, a moderate amount of immigration seems no
threat either to wage rates or to the unions.

(c) Immigration and occupational stratification. — Although economic oppor-
tunities in American society are oi>en to all, some groups are more likely than
others to take advantage of them. The determining factors are complex and
will only be treated here in their relationship to immigration.

Most immigrants entered the American economy at the lowest levels, primarily
as unskilled laborers. This was the logical outcome of the situation of peasants
coming without capital to an industrial society. The lack of skill and the initial
role as laborers was characteristic of the old immigrants as of the new, of
the Irish and Germans, as of the Italians and Poles, although the proportions
differed somewhat.*' There were occasional exceptions, of course, as among the
British immigrants of the last quarter of the nineteenth century and among the
Jews a little later.'"

It seems clear that the occupational level of all such groups rises with the
passage of time, although no general study has as yet examined with suffi-
cient care the means through which that rise occurs or the factors which affect
its rate. The various groups vary in their experience ; and those variations no
doubt reflect differences in cultural background as well as in the availability of
opportunities and the length of settlement.

That the factor last named may be crucial is shown by the findings in a survey
of Newburyport, Mass. Using indices of their own contriving, the authors of

*^ Harry Jerome, Migration and Business Cycles (New York, 1926) ; Hourwich, Immi-
gration and Labor, pp. 114 S.

*^ See on these points, Julius Isaac, Economics of Migration (New York, 1947), pp. 197
fif. : also G. A. Kleene. Profits and Wages (New York, 1916), 119 ff.

^ See, above ; Hourwich, Immigration and Labor, pp. 13 fif. ; Isaac, Economics of
Migration, p. 2.30.

s' Herman Feldmnn. Racial Factors in American Industry (New York, 1931), pp. 219 ff.

s' See Oscar Handlin, Boston's Immigrants (Cambridge, 1941), pp. 59 ff. ; Robert Ernst,
Immigrant Life in New York City (New York, 1949), pp. 61, 219.

■''• See E. E. Colien, "Economic Status and Occupational Structure," American Jewish
Yearbook, (Long Island. 1050), pp. 53 ff. R. T. BerthofC, British Immigrants in Industrial
America (dissertation in Harvard Archives, 1952).


that study traced tlu' occupational status of eight ethnic groups over nine
decades as follows : '■'"











Irish -














Armenians . . .






'« W. L. Warnor and Leo Srole, Social Systems of American Ethnic Groups (New Haven, 1945), p. 60.

The Striking features of these findings are : the extent to which almost all
groups seem to raise their status in time, the fact that relative iDOSitiou tends to
vary with duration of settlement, and tlie fact that some new immigrants
(Armenians, Jews) do hetter than the old Irish. Scattered data on home
ownership and savings accounts would seem in general to bear out the same

((?) Iniinrations and immigration. — Finally the possibility must not be over-
looked that among any group of immigrants or their children there may be the
occasional individual who by his gilts as an outsider may become one of the
long list of innovators, inventors, or entrepreneurs, who have helped to stimulate
American industry in the past. No test will reveal which particular group will
in the future bring along a Michael Pupin, a Conrad Huber, an Ottmar Mergen-
thaler, or a Giuseepe Bellanca."
a long list of such names.

To sum up, the possible adverse economic effects of immigration seem slight,
the possible gains both for Americans and newcomers seem considerable. All
the groups which have hitherto Immigrated have had some economic difficulties
in the sense that they have had to begin with the poorest .lobs but all have
shown some capacity to thrive from the opportunities of American life.

4. Intelli(jcnc€ and adjustme^it

Among the indices that have conventionally been used to judge the capacity
of various ethnic groups for Americanization was their intelligence and educa-
tion. This was long the ostensible justification for the literacy test since, it
was argued, only the fittest groups ought to be permitted to assume the responsi-
bilities of American citizenship.

The difficulty was to find a reliable basis for comparing the intelligence of
diverse groups. The Army intelligence tests 1917-18 were inconclusive since
it was difficult to eliminate the effect of differences of environment on the re-
sults. All that can reliably be deduced from these tests is that duration of
residence was a significant factor. Beyond that, there is no sound basis for
establishing valid differences in intelligence among various ethnic groups."^

There is a good deal of evidence of difference in educational attainment.
Local data indicates some groups are more proficient in their schooling and
advance to higher grades than others.. Ethnic values and background may be a
conditioning factor here. On the other hand, there is also evidence that the
social environment is the critical factor. Negro children who migrate from the
South to the North thus show a marked rise in intelligence quotient."' Further-
more, a general .study of American education, has shown that the most significant
varial)le in the ability of children to profit from their schooling is the character
of the social environment and the class from which they come.*" In all this

** W. S. Bernard, Anirican Immigration Policy (New York, 1950), p. 61 ff., contains
a long list of such name.s.

"= A good discussion of the whole question is in Anne Anastasi and .Tohn P. Folev, .Tr.,
Differential Psychology (New Yorlf, 1949), pp. 689-8.^6. See also, F. L. Marcuse and
M. E. Ritterman. Notes on the Results of Armv Intelligence Testing in World War I,
Science, CIV (194(5). p. l.':;i : Otto Kliueborir. Race l^ifferences (Now York. 19.3.")). p. 1,52 ff. :
C. C. P.righam. A Study of American Intellignce (Princeton, 1923) ; Clifford Kirkpatrick,
Intelligence and Immigration (Baltimore, 192(5) ; F. Osborne, Preface to Eugenics (New
York. 1940). p. 77.

"=" Otto KIinel)erg. Negro Intelligence and Selective Misration (New I'ork, 19.'?.'5), p. .59 ff.

»» W. L. Warner. R. .1. Ilavighurst, and M. B. Loeb, Who Shall Be Educated? (New
York, 1944), pp. 45 ff., 58 ff.


material, there is little to suggest that any group is inately incapable of being
Americanized by reason of deficiencies in its intelligence.""

5. Criminality and adjustment

Very similar conclusions emerge from the studies of criminality in the past 25
years.' As to total inclination to crime, the (Wickersham) National Commission
on Law Observance and Enforcement found that the foreign-born committed
fewer crimes than the native in proportion to their respective numbers in the
total population."" This result is plausible enough, although there must always
be a good deal of difficulty in compensating for differences due to the social
distribution of the groups concerned.

The Commission also felt that among the foreign-born there seemed to be
variations, from group to group, in the proneness to commit certain types of
crime. But its evidence, it feared, was not adequate to sustain any firm

A more recent study tended to confirm the predilection of various ethnic
groups to certain types of crime. Professor Hooton found that crime was not
due to race or ethnic affiliations. But given a criminal individual, the type of
crime committed was likely to be determined by the character of the group
from which he sprang."' Certainly this factor seems, in general, minor in com-
parison with the other social, psychological, and biological factors affecting the
rate of criminality in the United States."*

Juvenile delinquency now also seems less a concommitant of immigration
than formerly. Intensive investigations have not found conclusive evidence
that the children of immigrants are more likely to be delinquent than the children
of natives ; and given equality of social environment, there is even an indication
they may be less so.''"

Furthermore there is now a soimd basis for believing that the ciiltural conflict
deriving from ethnic affiliations is of only slight importance in the incidence
of juvenile delinquency, and that the more critical factors spring from the
social and family environment and the personality of the individual child.^

The total trend of these investigations is to minimize the possible influence
upon criminality of future immigration. Certainly they supply no grounds for
the fear that the new immigrants are likely to be more dangerous than the

6". Alcoholism and adjustment

Statistical measurement of the incidence of alcoholism offers the same difl3-
culties as that of other disorders. The data is at best partial and must be
adjusted against deviations with care. Thus arrests for drunkenness are not
very useful. since these vary enormously from place to place and are likely to
affect almost exclusively the lowest social groups.

A somewhat more reliable index, though hardly a thoroughly dependable
one, is the rate of commitment for alcoholic psychoses in State institutions. This
offers the advantage of a relatively constant criterion and one that can be fairly
well standardized. A study of New York State institutions uses this index
with good results. That study found the foreign-born had a rate of 7.4 per 100,000
population while the native rate was only 3.2. But standardized to remove the
influence of different age distributions, the disparity disappeared almost entirely,
with the foreign and native rates being almost equal.^

The distribution by specific nativity groups was striking for it showed marked
variations significant as the equality of the over-all foreign with the native rate.
The maximum was for the Irish with 30.5, followed liy the Scandinavians with
7.9, the English with 4.8, the Italians, 4.3, and the Germans, 3.8.' Whether these

^" For pxplifit coni.parisons of old and new immisrants, see Edmund de S. Brunner,

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