Socioeconomic Mobility among Three Generations of Japanese Americans1


  • 1

    The study upon which this paper is based has been 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 Resources Grant RR-3. This paper is a revised version of one presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, 1970.


Data from a three generational survey of Japanese Americans indicate that the occupational and educational attainments of the first generation (Issei) are reflected in the achievements of the second and third generations. Findings suggest that two different currents flow in the Japanese American community, one relatively traditional, the other more assimilationist. It is expected that only assimilationists will survive—but in a modified fashion. The majority of the Sansei queried indicate an interest in Japanese ways while still embracing the primary goals of American society and its emphasis on socioeconomic success in particular. Although the ban on outmarriage is breaking down, a majority of Sansei have married or intend to marry within the fold. While the Japanese Americans have successfully accommodated to the American situation—especially by correctly gauging the great importance of education, there is little evidence that the subculture will soon wither away.