Assimilation and Educational Achievement: the Case of the Second Generation Japanese-American*


  • *

    The study upon which this paper is based was made possible through grants from the Japanese American citizens League, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant No. 5 R01 MH12780–04). Computing assistance was obtained from the Health Sciences Computing Facility, UCLA, sponsored by NIH Special Research Resource Grant RR-3. We are especially appreciative of the generous assistance and extensive comments provided by Gene N. Levine, the principal investigator of UCLA's Japanese American Research Project. Also, we gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments made on earlier drafts of this paper by Kenneth D. Bailey, Edna Bonacich, Tara McLaughlin, Frank Stratford, and two anonymous reviewers for this journal. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, New York City, August, 1973.

  • DARREL MONTERO is Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was formerly Director of Research of the Japanese American Research Project, UCLA. He is presently studying Vietnamese immigrants as well as continuing his research on Japanese Americans. He is the author of “Socioeconomic Mobility among three Generations of Japanese Americans,” (with G. N. Levine) and “Support for Civil Liberties among a Cohort of High School Graduates and College Students.”

  • RONALD TSUKASHIMA is Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University, Los Angeles. He has conducted research on the contact hypothesis as well as on racial intermarriage among Japanese Americans. He is the author of “The Contact Hypothesis: Social and Economic Contact and Generational Changes in the Study of Black Anti-Semitism.” (with D. Montero).

Reprints of this article may be obtained by writing Darrel Montero, Institute for Urban Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.


A review of the literature reveals three conflicting hypotheses concerning Japanese-American educational achievement. Data from a three-generational, national sample of Japanese-Americans are examined to determine the correlates of the second-generation respondents'(the Nisei) educational achievement. Employing four measures of assimilation—cultural, structural, marital, and identificational—the findings suggest that the greater the assimilation of the respondent, the higher the educational achievement. These findings and their implications are discussed.