The Development of Young Children of Immigrants in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States


  • We acknowledge funding support from the Australian Research Council (DP0878643), NICHD (R01 HD047215-01), Russell Sage Foundation, and Sutton Trust, and the support of Statistics Canada in facilitating access to the Canadian data through the Carleton, Ottawa, Outaouais Local Research Data Centre at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is conducted in partnership between the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); the findings and views reported in this article are those of the authors and should not be attributed to FaHCSIA, AIFS, or the ABS. The feedback from participants at a seminar presentation to the Office of Population Research, Princeton University, is also acknowledged with thanks.

concerning this article should be addressed to Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027. Electronic mail may be sent to


In spite of important differences in some of the resources immigrant parents have to invest in their children, and in immigrant selection rules and settlement policies, there are significant similarities in the relative positions of 4- and 5-year-old children of immigrants in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Children of immigrants underperform their counterparts with native-born parents in vocabulary tests, particularly if a language other than the official language is spoken at home, but are not generally disadvantaged in nonverbal cognitive domains, nor are there notable behavioral differences. These findings suggest that the cross-country differences in cognitive outcomes during the teen years documented in the existing literature are much less evident during the early years.