NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

AMERICAN UNDERCLASS IS NATIVE BORN

March 20, 2006

Throughout the United States and Europe, an urban culture of economic and cultural detachment generates a subpopulation of alienated, angry and unproductive citizens, says Joel Kotkin of the New America Foundation.

However, the difference between the United States and Europe is the United States' problems rest not in cities with heavy immigration population, as in Europe, but in places like New Orleans that are dominated by native-born African Americans. In fact, most of the cities with the highest concentrations of poverty in America -- New Orleans, Louisville, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia -- are predominantly black cities, says Kotkin.

These are also cities that most immigrants skip over, Kotkin finds:

  • Immigrants make up only 5 percent of New Orleans residents -- compared to 28 percent in Houston, 40 percent in Los Angeles and 36 percent in New York City.
  • Immigrants settling in heavily black metro areas generally move outside city limits.

More importantly, says Kotkin, immigrant poverty differs in kind from our native born:

  • Latino immigrants are "working poor," and boast above average rates of labor participation and supplement their low official incomes with money earned "off the books."
  • The percentage of Latino self employment is twice the rate of native-born African Americans, and the ranks of Latino-owned businesses currently grow faster than white-owned businesses.

Lastly, race and religion no longer determine economic success, says Kotkin:

  • The per capita income of African immigrants is $20,100 which sharply outranks that of Asian immigrants ($16,700), Central-American immigrants ($9,400) and native-born Americans ($14,400).
  • Muslims make up the most entrepreneurial and well-educated groups, with roughly 60 percent college educated and two thirds earning over $50,000 per year.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "Ideological Hurricane," American Enterprise, January/February 2006.

 

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