NEW YORK – Grigoris Argeros, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University, shared the findings of his pioneering and significant study focusing on the immigration of Greeks to the United States following the financial crisis of 2008 in Greece, exclusively with The National Herald.
Dr. Argeros examines the wave of immigration from Greece to the United States in the years 2010-2015 and does not hesitate to classify it as the “third wave of Greek immigration” after those of the 1890-1924 and 1968-1979 periods.
In addition, Argeros gave an exclusive interview to TNH and spoke about his study, which was accepted for publication in the fall issue of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies.
Brief Summary: Greek Immigration to the United States, 2010–2015: A Descriptive Analysis
By Grigoris Argeros
Using up-to-date census data, the present study examines the statistical profile of Greeks arriving in the U.S. after the 2008 economic recession and the ensuing economic turmoil in Greece. The main objective was to provide a descriptive analysis of this population’s residential, socioeconomic status (SES), and family/household characteristics compared to their longer-term coethnics. The results tentatively suggest that a third wave of Greek immigration, albeit smaller in size relative to the previous two (1890-1924 and 1968-1979), has been occurring since at least 2010. While Greek immigrants represent a small share of the overall immigrant population in the U.S., their population size has significantly increased between 2010 and 2015. Specifically, the census recorded just over 773,000 Greek immigrants between 1980 and 2009, as opposed to the nearly 1.1 million recorded during the 2010–2015 period. In the period 2010–2015, they constituted 58% of the total Greek immigrant population arriving to the US since 1980. Their numbers declined by approximately 12% during the 1980–2009 time period (from 210,000 in 1980 to 185,406 in 2009). On the other hand, foreign-born Greeks’ population size increased by approximately 11% in the period 2010–2015. It remains to be seen whether such an increase will continue into the future. Three additional findings emerge when we compare this group’s SES, acculturation, and family/household background characteristics with those who have been in the US longer.
First, newcomers have higher levels of education than their longer-term counterparts. Contrary to previous Greek immigration waves, post-2010 arrivals are more likely to be college educated. Their educational advantage still holds even when we exclude those who are still in school. Based on my dataset, approximately 31% of them are currently getting an education. Excluding immigrants not in school, approximately 49% of recent migrants have a college degree or higher compared to 28% among those who came earlier. To the extent that education is positively associated with socioeconomic status and residential mobility, we would expect the newer group’s higher educational level to translate into more favorable SES and locational outcomes. According to the tradition model of spatial assimilation, increments in SES and acculturation, such as improving English-language proficiency levels and increasing time spent in America, should enable the foreign-born people to reside in qualitatively more desirable neighborhoods. Using multivariate statistical analyses, future research should examine the extent to which recent Greek immigrants’ SES and acculturation characteristics translate into socioeconomic and locational outcomes as suggested by the spatial assimilation model developed by social scientists.
A second key finding pertains to recent immigrants’ racial diversity. While the overwhelming majority of Greek-Americans identify as white, recent arrivals are more likely to identify as nonwhite, especially black. Plus, those who identify as black are more likely to have higher a higher level of education (a college degree) than both other recent and longer-term immigrants. Moreover, Greek immigrants who self-identify as black are also more likely to have higher median household income than their white counterparts. Nevertheless, they are less likely to have higher median income levels than longer-term Greek immigrants who also identify themselves as black. The rising number of Greek immigrants who identify as black raises the possibility that the relationship between their SES, acculturation status, and residence will not follow the trajectory as outlined by the spatial assimilation model. In other words, race will have a more powerful effect on recent black Greek immigrants, such that their high educational (and income) levels may not necessarily translate into commensurate residential outcomes relative to their white counterparts, even when taking into consideration differences in socioeconomic characteristics.
The final key finding pertains to the newcomers’ geographic distribution. The results suggest that recent immigrants are more geographically dispersed than their predecessors. While descriptive and tentative, the above finding hints at the possibility that post-2010 arrivals may be avoiding the traditional Greek-American ethnic enclaves, as was seen with the example of New York. Future research should examine in more detail the residential settlement and geographic distribution of recent Greek immigrants.
Recent Greek immigrants to the U.S. are entering a very different socioeconomic climate and labor markets compared to those who came during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The traditional resources and routes for socioeconomic status attainment and mobility, along with their attendant support systems, have either weakened or disappeared. As a result, post-2010 immigrants, as well as their native-born offspring, may not have access to the same economic opportunities that enabled their Greek immigrant predecessors to achieve the American Dream.