Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 474–493 | Cite as

Age-of-Arrival Effects on the Education of Immigrant Children: A Sibling Study

  • Sukanya BasuEmail author
Original Paper


We analysed the effects of late entry on the human capital of immigrant children, and investigated the channels via which age-at-migration affects the native-immigrant education gap. Ordinary-least-squares estimates could have been biased if parents factored the age of children into their migration decision. Using a sample of siblings from the 2000 US Census, we employed a family fixed-effects estimation strategy and found a negative and convex relationship between human capital and age-of-arrival. Teenage entrants’ outcomes were worst affected compared to younger entrants. Language was found to be an important mediating factor via which age-of-arrival influenced education. The critical age for English proficiency was 8–10. Age-of-arrival affected education not only through language but also via heterogeneous origin country conditions. The additional privileges of birth-right citizenship, if any, were disentangled from the benefits of zero age-of-arrival for natives. Citizenship by birth provided few advantages, except for college enrollment. Results were robust to sample selection changes.


Age-of-arrival Education Immigrant children Siblings study Family fixed-effects 

JEL Classification

I20 J1 J13 J15 



I am grateful to seminar participants at the University of Rochester and Vassar College. I would also like to thank conference participants at the Western Economic Association International Conference and participants at the CeMent workshop of the CSWEP program. I would also like to thank Sarah Pearlman and Ross Messing for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper, and Amanda McFarland for excellent research assistance on this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Sukanya Basu declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vassar CollegePoughkeepsieUSA

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