The immigrant paradox puzzle

29 Apr

The immigrant paradox puzzle refers to the tendency of first generation immigrant youth to do better academically than second or third generation youth.
Here is the abstract from a recent paper in the journal Learning and Individual Differences on this phenomenon:

“The “immigrant paradox” indicates that the academic attitudes and outcomes of 1st-generation youth exceed those of the 2nd- and 3rd-generation. This paper examines a) whether unobserved measurement bias contributes to these generational differences, b) generational differences in levels of behavioral school engagement (BSE) and perceived supportive school relations (SSR), and c) to what extent BSE mediates the relations between SSR and academic achievement and whether these relations differ across generations. New York City Social and Academic Engagement Study (NYCASES) data were analyzed. Strong measurement invariance for BSE and SSR suggests that unobserved measurement bias does not contribute to the immigrant paradox. 1st generation youth evinced higher latent means for BSE and SSR than 2nd or 3rd-generation youth. 1st generation youth responded to SSR by exerting effort while 2nd and 3rd generation youth responded to SSR by complying with rules. Because effort engendered achievement more than compliance, this study identifies a mediating mechanism that contributes to the immigrant paradox.”

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One Response to “The immigrant paradox puzzle”

  1. locksleyu April 29, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    I didn’t quite follow the abstract text you quoted, but generally speaking I would think that first generation immigrants would have some memory of their home country, and therefore be able to see the advantages of the US which would in turn motivate them to study more. The following generations, however, would be more ‘spoiled’ in the sense they have been in the US all their life.

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