Comparing the Integration of Immigrants in North America and Western Europe

What do we gain by comparing the integration of immigrants in North America and Western Europe? Properly done, a transatlantic comparison reveals the particular challenges that different countries face. Such a comparison must take into account that the migration streams into different countries vary greatly in their composition, and for that reason we focus on groups we identify as low status, dominated by immigrants who arrived with low levels of education, ended up in low-wage jobs, and are stigmatized because of ethnicity, race, or religion. They obviously provide the greatest integration challenge. We also argue that it is essential to consider the dynamics of integration separately in a wide range of domains, from education, residence, politics, and the labor market to the role of national identities and intermarriage as well as the barriers based on race and religion. Doing so demonstrates that no country is successful in every domain, nor lags behind in all. Our analysis also indicates that a consideration of the institutional arrangements of the different countries in each domain is critical to any understanding of the integration record.