Parental Influences on the Educational Outcomes of Immigrant Youth1


  • 1

    Previous versions of this paper were presented at the 2000 Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association, Washington, DC and the National Academy of Education Fall Forum, October 1999, Pittsburgh, PA. This project was supported by a 1998–2000 Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation.


Recent research suggests that children with immigrant parents tend to outperform their counterparts with native-born parents. This article examines whether the relative advantage of children of immigrants can be traced to differences in the character of parent-child relationships. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), I examine whether parent-child interaction varies among racial and generational groups. Descriptive tabulations suggest that immigrant parents are less likely to share decisionmaking power and to talk about school in general than are native-born parents. However, immigrant parents are more likely to talk about college, and their children report that they are closer to their parents than youth of native-born parents. While differences in parent-child interaction account for some of the differences in educational achievement between racial and generational groups, significant variation by race and generational status remains. Finally, I found significant variation between parenting behavior and its impact on GPA by race and ethnicity.