Immigrants may find that they are cut off from their roots but without succeeding in acquiring the cultural identity of the host country. Consequently they live in a cultural "no man's land". Whereas adult immigrants, whose personalities have already been formed by a set of values, moral codes, customs, myths and symbols, can to a certain degree handle the difficulties of their new situation, second-generation immigrants cannot escape exposure to the effects of a double sub-culture. The result is that immigrants constitute an anxious, disturbed population. Initial insecurity and inequalities lead to a loss of interest in acquiring literacy, with a consequent structural form of illiteracy and illiteracy due to revulsion, both amongst adult immigrants and their children. This places them at a disadvantage as regards access to employment or job advancement.
Some host countries give immigrants no security of long-term residence and maintain them in a permanently uncertain, temporary legal situation. This situation has repercussions on the second generation. At the end of the 1980s in five European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland), 3 million persons under 25 had not formally acquired the citizenship of the host country.