Do Immigrants Transplant Certain Cultural Traits?

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 117

By Mark Krikorian and Jason Richwine on August 10, 2023

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Several studies and books have highlighted how migrants, either within one country or from one to another, transmit certain elements of their culture to their descendants rather than fully assimilating to the new culture. This has been observed in the migration of Southerners within the United States, for example, as well as among immigrants coming from abroad.

On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, Jason Richwine, resident scholar at the Center for Immigration Studies, joins host Mark Krikorian to discuss his recent academic journal article on cultural persistence among immigrants and their descendants, specifically examining savings behavior.

In the study, Richwine found strong correlation between the national savings rate in immigrants’ country of origin and the personal retirement savings of immigrants from those countries and their U.S.-born children, even when controlled for factors such as income, age, sex, and education. Interestingly, the savings behavior for the second generation (the children of immigrants) has even stronger correlation with that of the home country.

Richwine explains that cultural persistence has big implications for the current immigration conditions. “If you think about the administration using very legally dubious means to bring in far more immigrants to the United States than Congress ever authorized . . . given what we know about cultural persistence, they are changing the country in the long run, in a way that cannot be undone.”


Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.


Jason Richwine is a Resident Scholar at the Center for Immigration Studies.


Savings behavior among immigrants and their U.S.-born children: A test of the culture-transplant model

CIS Scholar's Paper on Cultural Persistence Published in Academic Journal

Yet Another Study Shows How Migrants Transplant Their Culture

Still More Evidence for Cultural Persistence


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".