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Immigrants to the United States from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, the three major countries of the Indian subcontinent, share international borders, a common history of colonial rule, and many cultural and religious customs. But upon immigrating to the United States, the socioeconomic outcomes and experiences of immigrants from each country diverge significantly. Data from the Migration Policy Institute, World Bank, and U.S. Census shows that Indian immigrants enjoy the highest average income and education levels among all immigrant groups in the United States, Bangladeshi immigrants experience the lowest, and Pakistani immigrants lie somewhere in the middle. This paper argues that three main factors contribute to this observed difference in socioeconomic outcomes: economic conditions in the sending country, selection criteria, and the different cultural and societal norms new immigrants have to navigate. India’s booming international economy, political capital, and population allow it to send high numbers of educated professionals to the U.S. at rates other countries cannot match. Immigrants from all three countries face a selection process prior to even applying for a green card, as there are barriers to entry in the U.S. immigration policy that require time and resources to overcome. Lastly, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants, by virtue of their religion, also face added discrimination and difficulties adopting American customs, both of which can negatively impact socioeconomic outcomes in complex ways.



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Where Paths Diverge: Exploring the Differing Socioeconomic Outcomes of Immigrant Groups from the Indian Subcontinent