The Benefits of Biculturalism: Exposure to Immigrant Culture and Dropping out of School among Asian and Latino Youths

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Abstract

Objective. This study examines how retaining an immigrant culture affects school dropout rates among Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans. Methods. I use 1990 Census data to analyze how language use, household language, and presence of immigrants in the household affect dropping out of school. Results. Overall, I found that these measures have similar effects on these diverse groups: bilingual students are less likely to drop out than English-only speakers, students in bilingual households are less likely to drop out than those in English-dominant or English-limited households, and students in immigrant households are less likely to drop out than those in nonimmigrant households. Conclusions. These findings suggest that those who enjoy the greatest educational success are not those who have abandoned their ethnic cultures and are most acculturated. Rather, bicultural youths who can draw resources from both the immigrant community and mainstream society are best situated to enjoy educational success.

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