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Author: Kucera, Miroslav
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Hansen, Jörgen
Liu, Xingfei
Kucera, Miroslav
Educational Attainment of Children of Immigrants: Evidence from NLSY79 and NLSY97
Presented: Kingston, ON, Queen's University, The John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy Conference on Economic Relations Between Children and Parents, October 21-22, 2010.
Cohort(s): NLSY79, NLSY97
Publisher: John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy
Keyword(s): Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT); Cognitive Ability; Educational Attainment; Educational Returns; Ethnic Differences; Family Background and Culture; Family Characteristics; Family Environment; Hispanics; Immigrants; Labor Market Outcomes; Test Scores/Test theory/IRT

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

The economic assimilation of immigrants in the host country's society has been a popular area of research for decades, especially in the U.S. and Canada where the population includes many immigrants as well as descendents of immigrants. While most of the economics literature has focused on the integration of immigrants, less attention has been paid to how children of immigrants fare in the host country. Since many immigrants decide to stay and raise their children in the host country, a more complete analysis of the costs and benefits associated with immigration must also consider the longer-term perspective that also considers how children of immigrants succeed relative to children of natives. Previous research has shown that children of immigrants generally acquire more schooling than otherwise similar children of native-born parents both in Canada and in the U.S. However, past research has not been able to explain why these educational differences exist. For example, such an educational gap may arise because of differences in cognitive abilities between children of immigrants and children of natives. These ability differences could occur if abilities are transmitted across generations and if there is a non-random selection of immigrants where only those with high abilities find it worthwhile migrating or are the only ones accepted in the host country.

In this paper, we formulate and estimate an economic model of educational attainment of American youths where young adults optimally choose between school and work based on their own abilities, preferences and opportunities. The behavioural parameters are estimated using data from NLSY79 and NLSY97, which makes this study one of the first researches that compare educational attainments between the two cohorts in the context of the labour market outcomes of children of immigrants in U.S.

Our data analysis shows that family environment is important in shaping young individuals' educational decisions. In each ethnicity group children of immigrants acquire more schooling, on average, than children of natives. These differences remain, and are even magnified, after controls for family characteristics, test scores and ethnicity are included. Preliminary results from our structural analysis indicate that father's educational attainment and AFQT scores are more important to Hispanic children of immigrants' educational decisions. According to our revealed preferences, children of immigrants also value education more than children of natives regardless of their ethnicity backgrounds.

By comparing our results from NLSY79 and NLSY97, we found that children of immigrants as a group experienced more significant improvement in educational attainment than native children over the decades. Second generation White Non-Hispanic immigrants increased their years of schooling the most across all immigration and ethnic groups, the reason lies in two aspects: significantly improved family backgrounds and AFQT scores; much higher returns to education. On the other hand, Second generation Hispanic Non-White immigrants not only obtained more schooling than native Hispanics in both NLSY79 and NLSY97, they also increased their educational attainment over twenty years. Furthermore the improved family backgrounds for Hispanic children of immigrants were not accompanied by a significantly higher return to education.

Simulated educational outcomes based on experimental policy changes suggests that, compared to White second-generation immigrants, Hispanic children of immigrants are more responsive to subsidized high-school and college attending. Moreover, by increasing the educational requirements of immigrants to U.S. economy, second-generation Hispanics are more likely to have higher education as well. Improved family environment together with education support programs have larger impact on educational attainment of children of immigrants, especially for Hispanics.

We believe that these results are important given the concerns that have been raised about deteriorating quality of recent immigrants in the U.S., most of whom are of Hispanic origin, combined with the fact that a majority of the immigrant children in our sample have Hispanic origins.

Bibliography Citation
Hansen, Jörgen, Xingfei Liu and Miroslav Kucera. "Educational Attainment of Children of Immigrants: Evidence from NLSY79 and NLSY97." Presented: Kingston, ON, Queen's University, The John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy Conference on Economic Relations Between Children and Parents, October 21-22, 2010.