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Achievement and Ambition Among Children of Immigrants in Southern California


  • Rubin G. Rumbaut

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)


This report summarizes the latest results of the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), a multifaceted investigation of the educational performance and social, cultural and psychological adaptation of children of immigrants, the "new second generation" (cf. Portes, 1996) now growing up in American cities. Since late 1991, the study has followed the progress of a large sample of teenage youths representing over 70 nationalities in two key areas of immigrant settlement in the United States: Southern California (San Diego) and South Florida (Miami and Fort Lauderdale). The original survey, conducted in Spring 1992 ("T1"), interviewed over 5,200 students enrolled in the 8th and 9th grades in schools of the San Diego Unified School District (N=2,420), and of the Dade and Broward County Unified School Districts (N=2,843). The sample was drawn in the junior high grades, a level at which dropout rates are still relatively rare, to avoid the potential bias of differential dropout rates between ethnic groups at the senior high school level. For purposes of the study, students were eligible to enter the sample if they were U.S.-born but had at least one immigrant (foreign-born) parent, or if they themselves were foreign-born and had come to the U.S. at an early age (most before age ten). Three years after the original survey, in 1995-96 ("T2"), a second survey of the same group of children of immigrants was conducted- this time supplemented by in-depth interviews with a stratified sample of their parents as well-using survey questionnaires especially developed for longitudinal and comparative analyses. The purpose of this follow-up effort was to add a temporal dimension to the study and ascertain changes over time in the family situation, school achievement, educational and occupational aspirations, language use and preferences, ethnic identities, experiences and expectations of discrimination, and social and psychological adaptation of these youths. By this time the children, who were originally interviewed in junior high when most were 14 or 15 years old (the mean age at T1 was 14.2), had reached the final year of senior high school and were making their passages to adulthood, firming up plans for their future as well as their outlooks on the surrounding society. This paper describes the initial results of that latest survey, focusing on changes observed over time (from T 1 to T2) among the youths in the San Diego area.

Suggested Citation

  • Rubin G. Rumbaut, 1998. "Achievement and Ambition Among Children of Immigrants in Southern California," Macroeconomics 9802008, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9802008
    Note: Type of Document - Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on PostScript; pages: 52; figures: included

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics


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