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Family Background and Higher Education Attainment Among Children of Immigrants

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This study uses a modified form of Perna’s educational choice model (Studying college access and choice: A proposed conceptual model, Springer, Berlin, 2006) to examine whether children of immigrants have an “immigrant advantage” related to educational attainment. Children of immigrants represent approximately one in four children in the US and are the fastest growing segment of school-aged children. Using data from all 16 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997–2013), a random effects regression analysis indicated that children with at least one immigrant parent had a higher likelihood of higher education attainment. When separate regressions were run by race/ethnicity, the immigrant advantage was only present for Black and Hispanic respondents. Results presented evidence of omitted variable bias when modeling higher education attainment where parental immigration status was absent.

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Fig. 1

Source Adapted from Perna (2006)

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  1. Results were robust with respect to the selection of the number of nearest neighbors- setting k = 10, as recommended by Morris et al. (2014), in the imputation step resulted in no material differences in the regression estimates.

  2. Results were robust with respect to the choice of predictive mean matching over a regression-based approach. Using regression and truncated regressions in the imputation step resulted in no material differences in regression estimates.

  3. Dollar values are in US currency.


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Correspondence to Mitzi K. Lauderdale.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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This article uses secondary data, however, informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the original data collection.

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Lauderdale, M.K., Heckman, S.J. Family Background and Higher Education Attainment Among Children of Immigrants. J Fam Econ Iss 38, 327–337 (2017).

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