The impact of immigrant parents’ premigration family background on their second-generation children residing in destination countries remains underexplored in the literature on historical social mobility. Using multigenerational historical survey records from the Japanese American Research Project, this study investigates the influence of premigration socioeconomic and cultural background of Japan-born grandparents and parents on the social mobility of second-generation Japanese Americans born in the continental United States in the early twentieth century. The analysis reveals the enduring effects of family premigration socioeconomic status, as indicated by occupation and education, and culture conducive to upward mobility, proxied by samurai ancestry, on second-generation Japanese Americans’ educational and income levels. These effects may extend back to their nonmigrant grandparents and possibly contrast with their European second-generation immigrant counterparts, who typically experienced upward mobility regardless of their family background. The results point to the critical role of origin-country socioeconomic status and culture in immigrant social mobility research, particularly for populations whose negative reception has hindered their resource access in their new countries.

You do not currently have access to this content.