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Preparing for Success in Canada and the United States: the Determinants of Educational Attainment Among the Children of Immigrants

  • Hou, Feng
  • Picot, Garnett
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    This paper reviews the recent research on the determinants of the educational attainment among the children of immigrants (the 2nd generation) in Canada and the United States. The focus is on the gap in educational attainment between the 2nd and 3rd-and-higher generations (the children of domestic born parents), as well as the intergenerational transmission of education between immigrants and their children. On average, the children of immigrants have educational levels significantly above their counterparts with domestic born parents in Canada. In the U.S., educational levels are roughly the same between these two groups. In both countries, conditional on the educational attainment of the parents and location of residence, the children of immigrants outperform the 3rd-and-higher generation in educational attainment. Parental education and urban location are major determinants of the gap in educational attainment between the children of immigrants and those of Canadian or American born parents. However, even after accounting for these and other demographic background variables, much of the positive gap between the 2nd and 3rd-and-higher generations remains in Canada. In Canada, parental education is less important as a determinant of educational attainment for the children in immigrant families than among those with Canadian-born parents. Less educated immigrant parents are more likely to see their children attain higher levels of education than are their Canadian-born counterparts. Outcomes vary significantly by ethnic/source region group in both countries. In the U.S., some 2nd generation ethnic/source region groups, such as those with Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American backgrounds, have relatively low levels of education, even though conditional on background characteristics they outperform their 3rd-and-higher generation counterparts. In contrast, in Canada, children of the larger and increasingly numerically important immigrant groups (the Chinese, South Asians, Africans, etc) register superior educational attainment levels to those of the 3rd-and-higher generation. This result is partly related to the high levels of parental education and group-level “ethnic capital†among these immigrant groups.

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    File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%2059%20%20-%20Picott%20and%20Hou.pdf
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    Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2010-13.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: 30 Apr 2010
    Date of revision: 30 Apr 2010
    Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2010-13
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/

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    1. Mikal Skuterud, 2010. "The visible minority earnings gap across generations of Canadians," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(3), pages 860-881, August.
    2. Krishna Pendakur & Simon Woodcock, 2008. "Glass Ceilings or Glass Doors? Wage Disparity Within and Between Firms," Discussion Papers dp08-02, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2005. "Immigrant Earnings: A Longitudinal Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1750, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-90, June.
    5. James P. Smith, 2003. "Assimilation across the Latino Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 315-319, May.
    6. Chiswick, Barry R. & DebBurman, Noyna, 2003. "Educational Attainment: Analysis by Immigrant Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 731, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Issues in the Economics of Immigration," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj00-1.
    8. Morton Stelcner, 2000. "Earnings Differentials among Ethnic Groups in Canada: A Review of the Research," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 58(3), pages 295-317.
    9. Picot, Garnett & Sweetman, Arthur, 2005. "The Deteriorating Economic Welfare of Immigrants and Possible Causes: Update 2005," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005262e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    10. Aydemir, Abdurrahman & Chen, Wen-Hao & Corak, Miles, 2006. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility among the Children of Canadian Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 2085, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Derek Hum & Wayne Simpson, 1999. "Wage Opportunities for Visible Minorities in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(3), pages 379-394, September.
    12. George J. Borjas, 2006. "Making it in America: Social Mobility in the Immigrant Population," NBER Working Papers 12088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Picot, Garnett, 2008. "Immigrant Economic and Social Outcomes in Canada: Research and Data Development at Statistics Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008319e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    14. Card, David, 2004. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," IZA Discussion Papers 1119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Aneta Bonikowska & Feng Hou & Garnett Picot, 2011. "A Canada-US Comparison of Labour Market Outcomes among Highly Educated Immigrants," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 37(1), pages 25-48, March.
    16. Borjas, George J, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-50, February.
    17. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Introduction to "Issues in the Economics of Immigration"," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Hou, Feng & Bonikowska, Aneta, 2011. "Reversal of Fortunes or Continued Success? Cohort Differences in Education and Earnings of Childhood Immigrants," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2011330e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    19. Hou, Feng & Ram, Bali & Abada, Teresa, 2008. "Group Differences in Educational Attainment Among the Children of Immigrants," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008308e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    20. Frenette, Marc, 2005. "Is Post-secondary Access More Equitable in Canada or the United States?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005244e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    21. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
    22. Krishna Pendakur & Ravi Pendakur, 1998. "The Colour of Money: Earnings Differentials Among Ethnic Groups in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(3), pages 518-548, August.
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