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Integration of Muslim Immigrants: US vs. Europe

melian          2 December 2015 06:28 AM

The economic integration of Muslim immigrants in the U.S. appears to be much more successful than in Western Europe or Canada. For example, for Pakistan-born immigrants in the UK the median household income is less than 60% of the median household income for the native-born white British. In Canada the corresponding number is about 70%, while in the US it rises to about 120%.

Similar differences can be observed in cultural adaptation. While in Europe children of Muslim immigrants are significantly more likely to espouse radical views than their parents, no comparable trends have been observed in the US.

A number of different explanations may be suggested to explain this difference:

  1. Welfare Policies. While in Europe it is much harder for an immigrant to find an employment, it is much easier to receive state support. This creates a permanent underclass estranged from the rest of the society.

  2. Melting Pot. As a country built by the immigrants, the US does not have a titular nation and the new arrivals are less likely to feel like complete outsiders.

  3. Selection. Due to higher immigration barriers, Muslim immigrants to the U.S. tend to be better educated than their European counterparts.

  4. Self-selection. Since the U.S. has the reputation of the “Big Satan” in the Muslim countries, immigrants to the U.S. tend to be more secular. Also, people who chose as their destination a country not known for its generous welfare policies may be more ambitious than others.

Which (if any) of the above factors do you think is the most important?

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Alice 9 December 2015 11:47 AM

All of these probably factor in. Maybe (1) also influences self-selection: immigrants looking for opportunities to build careers and succeed are more likely to think about the US, while immigrants who are looking for stronger safety net/welfare turn to Europe. Having a big community of people from the same cultural background who are not assimilated also probably plays a role.

It would be interesting to see how Latin American immigrants are doing in Europe compared to the US. Presumably it's much harder for them to move to Europe than to the US, for the same reason that it is much harder for Muslim immigrants to move to the US than to Europe. So this may show whether this is a serious factor.


aliad 13 February 2016 09:46 PM

I'd say 1 is very important. Both needing to find a job and having a job are big motivators for understanding how the outsiders that are the majority think. Having a job where you encounter individuals from the mainstream society is also a big help in integrating by providing a context where you are in contact with the mainstream patterns of thought over a piloted period.

I would also note that as an additional factor the one thing US public schools are really outstanding at is indoctrinating kids into social conformity. So that might also help with integration.


is4junk 12 December 2015 06:53 PM

Where is your data from? According to Pew, Muslim income is near the bottom of all the major faiths groups in the US and about 2/3rds of Muslims were born outside the US - so mostly immigrants.