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Melting pot or salad bowl?: assessing Irish immigrant assimilation in late nineteenth century America

Cirenza, Peter (2011) Melting pot or salad bowl?: assessing Irish immigrant assimilation in late nineteenth century America. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This dissertation assesses the degree of assimilation achieved by Irish immigrants in the US in the last decades of the nineteenth century. It employs a matching technique to link specific individuals in both the 1880 and 1900 US censuses. I use this technique to create matched samples of Irish immigrants and native born Americans, allowing me to capture significant information concerning these individuals and their families over this timeframe. Utilising these samples, together with other data, I assess the degree of assimilation achieved by Irish immigrants, in aggregate and in selected subsets, with native born Americans across a range of socio-economic characteristics over this period. Among my principal findings are that Irish immigrants did not assimilate quickly into American society in this period, nor did they achieve occupational parity with native born Americans. Younger Irish and those who immigrated to the US as children experienced greater assimilation and achieved higher levels of occupational mobility, as did those Irish immigrants who married a non-Irish spouse. Higher levels of geographic clustering were associated with lower degrees of assimilation and lower occupational outcomes. My research provides support for the argument that such clustering delays immigrant assimilation. My results also indicate continued cultural persistence by Irish immigrants as it relates to their choice of names for their children. Irish immigrants who gave their children a common Irish name closely resembled those who married an Irish-born spouse - they underperformed in the workplace and experienced a lower degree of assimilation. These results suggest that the flame burning under the Irish melting pot in the last decades of the nineteenth century was not very hot, and that the assimilation process for Irish immigrants into American society was a varied and multidimensional one.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Peter Cirenza
Library of Congress subject classification: E History America > E11 America (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Supervisor: Minns, Chris and Morgan, Mary
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/90

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