Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type



Political Science


Achieving the American dream is typically equated with strong upward socioeconomic mobility economic individualism, and low use of social assistance programs. Immigrants migrating to the United States migrate for a variety of reasons; however, do they share perceptions of socioeconomic mobility and similar attitudes regarding social assistance? And do the children and grandchildren of immigrants also share similar perceptions and attitudes? This study seeks to understand whether or not perceptions of socioeconomic mobility affect attitudes regarding social assistance in the immigrant first generation, second generation, and third generation. By examining the core values and beliefs held by different immigrant generations, a pattern of perceptions of upward mobility and negative attitudes about assistance emerge in the first generation. The quintessential American value of economic individualism appears to be a core value held by those coming from outside the borders of the United States and offers some explanation for the variation in assistance attitudes expressed by all generations.