Research Paper Topics on Immigration

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island

Immigration is a huge and multifaceted subject. Research papers generally require a precise research question, so if you are writing a paper about immigration, you need to narrow it down to one particular aspect of immigration. The advantage is that such a broad topic offers enough subtopics that almost everyone can form a good research question that interests him.

1 History

Immigration to the United States started in the 17th Century, with the first arrivals of European settlers. Since then, immigration to the USA has experienced three major waves: during the 19th century, after the Civil War, and after the abolition of the quota system in 1965. Research paper topics relating to the history of immigration could be about various facets of any of the three waves.

2 Illegal Immigration

An estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants enter the U.S.A. every year, according to BBC News. This is a topic of much debate, which can make for a great research paper. You could focus on the rights of illegal immigrants and the legal consequences if they are caught. Another idea is to research the social and economic cost and benefits of illegal immigration. You could also research public opinion or media portrayal of the topic.

3 Multiculturalism vs. Assimilation

The policy of any country towards new immigrants falls somewhere on the spectrum between multiculturalism and assimilation. A multicultural policy encourages immigrants to maintain their original culture and practices, while a policy of assimilation expects immigrants to adopt the customs and values of their new country. Examples of research topics in this area include the social and psychological repercussions of different policies; the process of assimilation of first generation, second generation, and third generation immigrants; methods of maintaining a culture in a new country.

4 Integration and Settlement

Once immigrants arrive in a new country, they start the long and difficult process of settlement and integration. Finding a job, learning the language, connecting to the community, and staying healthy are all challenges to new immigrants. The progressive stages of integration are generally lengthy and complex, offering plenty of material for study.

5 Pull and Push Factors

Pull factors are all the incentives to go to a certain country, such as job opportunities or political and personal freedoms. Push factors are reasons to leave a country, such as persecution, conflict, or poverty. You could choose any region of the world and research the push and pull factors of immigration for that region.

6 Demographics

The U.S.A. has a declining birth rate among American-born citizens, and the population is aging. The way immigration affects the demographics of the country is fertile ground for research paper ideas. You can compare demographic data from different states and discuss how immigration plays a role in different regions of the U.S.A. You can also compare the demographic data of immigrants and the American-born population. Another possibility is to compare immigration policies of the U.S.A. to other countries with similar demographic characteristics.

Sharon Kennedy has lived and/or worked in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas and started writing professionally in 2010. She currently works with the YMCA and volunteers with Journalists for Human Rights. Kennedy is a graduate of the University of Ottawa, where she completed a Bachelor of Social Science.