Defining Difference: The Role of Immigrant Generation and Race in American and British Immigration Studies (Mary Waters, Ethnic and Racial Studies: Vol 37, No 1 (2014)).
This article reviews the ways in which Britain and the USA classify and analyse the integration of immigrants and their descendants. While both societies recognize racial differences in their official statistics and in the academic analyses of change over time, the USA tends to classify immigrants and their descendants by immigrant generation much more than Britain does. The importance of the concept of generation in American immigration research is highlighted and it is suggested that studies built on the importance of generation can illuminate social processes of integration in Britain. The complexities of defining and measuring immigrant generation are reviewed, including new developments in the measurement of generation that take into account age at migration, and historical period and cohort effects. Racial and ethnic minority groups formed through immigration may have very different characteristics depending on the average distance of their members from immigration including the possibility of ‘ethnic leakage’, as more assimilated, later-generation individuals no longer identify with the group.