Tran's research focuses on the integration of immigrants and their children, ethnic and racial categories, diversity and intergroup relations, neighborhood gentrification, as well as urban poverty and social inequality. As an immigration scholar and urban sociologist, his research and teaching are deeply connected to the diversity, history and vibrancy of New York City. He approaches the city, its neighborhoods and its residents as a social laboratory for original research and innovative teaching. His research adopts a multi-disciplinary and multi-methods approach to the dual study of immigrant and urban life, with a particular focus on how immigration has transformed local communities across the country in both traditional gateways and new immigrant destinations.
Examines views on affirmative action by Asians and other racial and ethnic groups. Finds the mention of Asians in the context of affirmative action, whether depicted as victims of affirmative action policies, or victims of discrimination, changes attitudes significantly. Finds a substantial generation gap in Asian attitudes on affirmative action, with immigrants much less likely to support affirmative action policies.
Examines the change in neighborhood environment among the U.S.-born children of immigrants over the life course. Draws on unique geocoded longitudinal data from the New York metropolitan area over three decades. Finds that they live in more advantaged neighborhoods in young adulthood compared to their birth and childhood neighborhoods where their immigrant parents once lived. Finds that while U.S.-born children of immigrants have yet to achieve neighborhood parity with U.S.-born whites, they have surpassed U.S.-born blacks in patterns of neighborhood attainment.
Finds that while U.S.-born Asians have a distinct educational advantage over whites, this advantage has yet to translate into the labor market, where U.S.-born Asians have only achieved parity with whites in attaining a professional or managerial occupation, with the exception of Chinese. Finds that this combination of their educational achievement and persistent limits in the workplace provide initial evidence that Asian Americans face a “bamboo ceiling,” an invisible barrier akin to the “glass ceiling” that women face.
Finds that recent macro-level trends have created a gendered context of assimilation for U.S.-born Hispanics, pointing to favorable condition among Hispanic women and potential vulnerability among Hispanic men. Documents a significant female advantage on individual-level indicators (i.e. education and occupation), but there are no gender differences on household-level indicators (i.e. poverty and home ownership) among U.S.-born Hispanics.
Examines how hyper-selectivity among Chinese immigrants might result in positive second-generation educational outcomes and racial mobility for Asian Americans. Raises the question of whether hyper-selectivity operates similarly for non-Asian groups. Finds that while there is a second-generation advantage among other hyper-selected groups (i.e. Cubans and Nigerians), hyper-selectivity has not changed the cognitive construction of race for blacks and Latinos as it has for Asians.
Finds significant progress among U.S.-born children of immigrant from eighteen ethnic groups compared to their “proxy” immigrant parents as well as to their U.S-born black and white peers from the same age cohort, in contrast to prior predictions of a “second-generation decline” in social mobility. Underscores the lack of nationally representative datasets to assess intergenerational mobility across immigrant generations, while pointing to the urgent need of high-quality data to benchmark immigrant socioeconomic assimilation in the future.
Examines patterns of socioeconomic attainment among second-generation Latinos in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Finds that in ten Latino ethnic groups, there is no evidence of a second-generation decline compared to their immigrant parents, some evidence of persisting disadvantages among Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, and strong evidence of parity among second-generation Latinos and U.S.-born whites from the same age cohort for all other Latino groups.
Uses survey experiments to provide one of the first causal tests of the impact of written Spanish on Americans' immigration attitudes. Finds, among those who hear Spanish frequently in day-to-day life, seeing written Spanish induces anti-immigration attitudes, indicating that for those familiar with Spanish, its presence can foster cultural threat.