Distinct Trajectories in the Transition to Adulthood: Are Children of Immigrants Advantaged?


  • This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. This research also uses data from the AHAA study, which was funded by a grant (R01 HD040428-02, Chandra Muller, PI) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a grant (REC-0126167, Chandra Muller, PI, and Pedro Reyes, Co-PI) from the National Science Foundation, and was also supported by grant, 5 R24 HD042849, Population Research Center, awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Child Development. Opinions reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies. This research was supported in part by an NICHD training grant to the Hopkins Population Center at Johns Hopkins University (5T32HD007546-10). This paper benefited from the discussion at the Sociology Colloquium, University of Pennsylvania.

concerning this article should be addressed to Lingxin Hao, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Electronic mail may be sent to hao@jhu.edu.


Studies on children of immigrants have generally ignored distinct developmental trajectories during adolescence and their role in the transition to adulthood. This study identifies distinct trajectories in cognitive, sociobehavioral, and psychological domains and estimates their consequences for young adults. Drawing data from a nationally representative sample of 10,795 adolescents aged 13–17 who were followed up to ages 25–32, the study uses growth mixture modeling to test advantages for children of immigrants. The analysis shows a 1.5-generation advantage in academic achievement and school engagement, as well as a weaker second-generation advantage in academic achievement, but no disadvantage in depression for children of immigrants. In addition, these results hold for children of Hispanic origin. Theoretical and policy implications are discussed.