Immigration from Mexico into the Math/Science Pipeline in American Education


  • *This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design of Add Health. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 〈〉. The authors will share coding information with those interested in replicating these results. The authors acknowledge the support of the Spencer Foundation and grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD40428-02, PI: Chandra Muller) and the National Science Foundation (REC-0126167, Co-PIs: Chandra Muller and Pedro Reyes) to the Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Opinions reflect those of the authors and not necessarily those of the granting agencies.

Robert Crosnoe, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station A1700, Austin, TX 78712-1088


Objectives. The purpose of this study was to explore generational differences in math/science enrollment and achievement among Mexican-American students and the role of family and school contexts in these differences.

Methods. We applied survey regression techniques to data from 12,020 adolescents in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Results. Native-born Mexican-American students had lower math/science enrollment than their peers, especially after differences in family and school contexts were taken into account. Mexican-American immigrants had lower achievement when enrolled in such classes, but this was explained by their greater level of family and school disadvantages.

Conclusions. Persistence and success in the math/science pipeline, a mechanism of social mobility in the modern economy, would likely be enhanced in the fast-growing population of Mexican-American students by improvements in family resources and school organization.