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Streets of Gold

Streets of Gold: Myths About Immigrants Challenged in New Book

Stanford economist Ran Abramitzky’s new book, Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigration Success, proves many of the current polarizing myths about immigrants are untrue. Co-authored with Princeton economics Professor Leah Boustan, the book analyzed whether previous generations of immigrants enjoyed rags to riches lives and quickly assimilated into life in America, while today’s immigrants are “taking over” the country and are often criminals.

The authors found that much of today’s negative political rhetoric about immigration is untrue, and in fact just like previous generations of immigrants, today:

  • immigrants are motivated to adapt to life in America
  • immigrants learn to speak English
  • immigrants frequently leave immigrant neighborhoods after they climate to life in America
  • immigrants often marry U.S.-born partners
  • immigrants give their children American-sounding names

The authors’ research also found that:

  • immigrants today make up 14% of the U.S. population – the same share as they did a century ago
  • immigrants do not “steal” work from Americans, in fact, immigrants either
    • hold jobs that have few available qualified U.S.-born workers, including positions that require advanced education like those in tech and science
    • have jobs that require very little education like picking crops by hand, washing dishes, or taking care of the elderly
  • immigrants are less likely than those born in the U.S. to be arrested and incarcerated for all types of offenses

Abramitzky is an immigrant who moved to the U.S. from Israel in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. in economics at Northwestern University. His parents were also immigrants who left Poland during the war to relocate to Israel.

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