The Social Psychology of Immigration and Inequality

Guillermina Jasso

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Immigration and inequality are inextricably intertwined. Inequality is an important determinant of immigration, and immigration in turn generates powerful inequalities. The study of immigration and inequality is not usually considered “social psychological.” Yet social psychology provides general conceptual tools which can illuminate not only the inner workings of immigration and inequality but also their deep connections and affinities with phenomena and processes in farflung domains. Accordingly, this chapter explores the social psychology of immigration and inequality. We adopt the strategy of starting both from basic theory and from inductive exploration of immigration and inequality. As will be seen, the two approaches touch, suggesting that someday, with the growth of knowledge, they will converge. Basic theory yields a wealth of testable predictions for the relations between natives and immigrants and between different types of immigrants, including predictions for emigration, social distance, discrimination, segregation, profiling, and assimilation. Inductive exploration yields a wealth of testable propositions, including propositions about types of migrants, the effects of U.S. immigration law on sibship inequality, and the black immigrants and native U.S. citizens who may help eradicate racial and color inequality. Both approaches increase knowledge, not least by pointing to theoretical and empirical lacunae as well as data deficiencies. Each approach nurtures and spurs the other—basic theory by challenging empiricalists to test the theoretical predictions, inductive exploration by challenging theorists to incorporate new terms (such as rights) and to derive new predictions.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
    PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
    Number of pages31
    StatePublished - 2014

    Publication series

    NameHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
    ISSN (Print)1389-6903
    ISSN (Electronic)2542-839X


    • Adaptation
    • English fluency
    • Immigration
    • Inequality
    • Nativity premium
    • New Immigrant Survey
    • Previous illegal experience
    • Selection
    • Skin color
    • Visas

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology (miscellaneous)
    • Social Psychology
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science


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