The National Academy of Sciences recently published a comprehensive report on the pace of immigrant assimilation. Short conclusion: It’s on par with previous waves of immigrants. I want to highlight one section of their report that explains why assimilation is so rapid that is only occasionally mentioned by some and totally ignored by others: ethnic attrition.
Ethnic attrition occurs when the descendants of immigrants from a particular country, let’s say Mexico, cease to identify as Mexicans, Hispanic, or Latino in surveys. This almost entirely occurs through intermarriage with spouses of different ethnic groups. This wouldn’t matter except that ethnic attrition is selective, not random, and is severe (see Table 1). Subsequent generations descended from Spanish-speaking immigrants who identify as Hispanic, Mexican, or Latino systematically differ from those who are descended from the same Spanish-speaking immigrants but who drop the self-identification.
Therefore the problem is that you can’t use polls of self-identified Mexicans, Hispanics, or Latinos born here to form an accurate picture of multi-generational assimilation. Any poll of those groups will only catch those who self-identify as such, not those born here to Mexican, Hispanic, or Latino parent(s) who do not.