Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


William A. Schwab

Committee Member

Anna Zajicek

Second Committee Member

Shauna Morimoto


Social sciences, Assimilation, Chinese american, Chinese immigrant


With more than 40 million immigrants, the United States is the major destination for most international migrants. It has always been so because America is a nation of immigrants. The United States has been shaped by four waves of immigration, and unlike previous waves, in the past 50 years immigrants have come from Latin America and Asia more than other regions of the world. Chinese immigration is the focus of this thesis. Chinese people have been present in this society from before the Revolutionary War, and their story is a complex one--one marked by rapid growth, discrimination, exclusion, acceptance, more rapid growth, and assimilation. This thesis describes the four waves of immigration that have shaped American society, and the role that the Chinese played in this process. Immigration law is explored and two benchmark laws, the Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, frame this discussion. The regions of Chinese emigration are described and the push-pull factors that affected this migration are discussed. Migration and assimilation theories are presented, and a model of spatial assimilation that predicts where ethnic groups are located in the urban fabric is applied to Chinese people in the United States. Measures of residential and socioeconomic integration, English-language proficiency, and intermarriage are used to determine the level of assimilation of Chinese immigrants after 1965. The straight-line assimilation model best describes the assimilation of Chinese Americans into this society.