American Sociological Association

Poverty and Affluence across the First Two Generations of Voluntary Migration from Africa to the United States, 1990-2012

The first substantial waves of voluntary migration from Africa arrived in the United States in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The largest number of them hailed from Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa. Highly select in their educational aspirations and achievements, many of them settled and started families. By 2010, their U.S.-born children had begun to reach adulthood, offering us a first look at intergenerational mobility among voluntary migrants from Africa. The racial diversity in this group of immigrants allows us to gauge the impact of racial stratification on immigrant adaptation. 1990 U.S. census and 2008–2012 American Community Survey data are used to uncover patterns of affluence and poverty among young Egyptian, Ethiopian, Nigerian, and South African immigrants in 1990 and U.S.-born men and women of those ancestries in 2008–2012. White and Black cohorts of U.S. birth and stock serve as additional referents. I find that women of the African second generation have advanced faster than their male counterparts and that racial group membership is at least predictive of financial well-being as specific national origins, with Black Africans, and Ethiopians in particular, showing pronounced disadvantages compared with White Africans in both the immigrant and second generations.


Emeka, A. S.





Starting Page


Ending Page


Get Involved


ASA needs you to serve the discipline

Join a Section

Explore ASA's community of specialists in the discipline

Join ASA

Join or renew your membership