Richard Alba

Distinguished Professor of Sociology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Areas of Expertise:
  • Immigration

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About Richard

Alba is most knowledgeable about immigration and its long-term consequences in terms of the intergenerational changes to immigrant-origin groups as well as the impacts on the societies they have joined. He has done very extensive research on the incorporation of immigrant groups in the United States, including both groups that came during the last great European wave, which ended in the 1920s, and those of present-day waves. He has also studied immigrants and their children in Western Europe, especially in France and Germany.



"Mexican Americans as a Paradigm for Contemporary Intragroup Heterogeneity" (with Tomás R. Jiménez and Helen B. Marrow). Ethnic and Racial Studies 37, no. 3 (2013): 466.
Examines theories of racialization and assimilation in regards to the position of immigrant-origin populations in American society – and finds reason to think that heterogeneity, for Mexican Americans at least, is increasing in the twenty-first century.
Remaking the American Mainstream: Assimilation and Contemporary Immigration (with Victor Nee) (Harvard University Press, 2003).
Demonstrates the continuing importance of assimilation in American life even as institutional changes, from civil rights legislation to immigration law, have provided a more favorable environment for nonwhite immigrants and their children.
Blurring the Color Line: The New Chance for a More Integrated America (Harvard University Press, 2009).
Argues that the social cleavages that separate Americans into distinct, unequal ethno-racial groups could narrow dramatically in the coming decades – but demographic shifts will only benefit disadvantaged American minorities if they are provided with access to education and training.
The Children of Immigrants at School: A Preliminary Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe (edited with Jennifer Holdaway) (New York University Press, forthcoming).
Shows how the children coming from low-status immigrant families are lagging behind their mainstream peers in the schools of the United States and four western European countries at a time when the need for highly educated workers is increasing everywhere. The fruit of an international study involving 25 social scientists, this book addresses a number of reforms that can be undertaken to ameliorate this inequality.

In the News

"There’s a Big Problem with How the Census Measures Race," Richard Alba, The Washington Post, February 6, 2018.
Richard Alba's research on William Neuman. Richard Alba, "No Traveling for New York’s Columbus Statue, Mayor Decides," New York Times, January 12, 2018.
Richard Alba's research on Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan. Richard Alba, "Even Experts Can’t Agree on Monuments–and that’s Okay," CO.Design, January 16, 2018.
"The Likely Persistence of a White Majority," Richard Alba, The American Prospect, January 11, 2016.
"U.S. Can Do Better Job of Integrating Immigrants," Richard Alba (with Nancy Foner), San Diego Union-Tribune, September 24, 2015.
"The Myth of a White Minority," Richard Alba, New York Times, June 11, 2015.
"The Strange Math of the Heritage Foundation’s Immigration Report," Richard Alba, Democracy Journal, May 17, 2013.
Richard Alba's research on the real cost of immigration reform, and errors in the recent Heritage Foundation study on same discussed in Gavin Aronsen. Richard Alba, "Study: Conservative Anti-Immigration Paper by Controversial Scholar Had Basic Errors," Mother Jones, May 16, 2013.
Richard Alba's research on racism and misuse of data in Jason Richwine's report on immigration discussed in Adam Serwer. Richard Alba, "Conservative Immigration Scholar: Black and Hispanic Immigrants Are Dumber Than European Immigrants," Mother Jones, May 8, 2013.
Richard Alba's research on myths about assimilation - or the lack thereof - among U.S. immigrant groups discussed in Rachel L. Swarns. Richard Alba, "Children of Hispanic Immigrants Continue to Favor English, Study of Census Finds," New York Times, December 8, 2004.
"Demographics and the Golden Door," Richard Alba, Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2007.
"An Unusual Chance for Racial Justice," Richard Alba, e-newsletter of Americas Society/Council of the Americas, News & Views, December 14, 2007.
Richard Alba's research on diversity on Wall Street (with Joseph Pereira) discussed in Sumathi Reddy. Richard Alba, "Report Parses Wall Street Workforce," Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2011.
Richard Alba's research on diversity on Wall Street (with Joseph Pereira) discussed in Staff Reports. Richard Alba, "While Wall Street Gets More Diverse, White Men Still Take Home Much More Money ," Huffington Post, December 3, 2011.
"The End of Segregation? Hardly," Richard Alba (with Steven Romalewski), Center for Urban Research, March 2012.
Guest to discuss the Dillingham Commission of the early 20th century and analogies to present-day opposition to immigration reform on NPR's All Things Considered with Audie Cornish, Richard Alba, January 28, 2013.
Richard Alba's research on the social mobility of U.S. immigrants discussed in David Brooks. Richard Alba, "Beyond the Fence," New York Times, May 6, 2013.