Immigrant selectivity, academic culture and college enrollment among Asian Americans
Asian Americans have advantages across numerous indicators for educational attainment and upward mobility. While researchers acknowledge the contribution of positive selective migration in Asian Americans’ academic success, the relationship of selective migration with academic culture has not been clearly studied. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study and the Barro-Lee dataset, this study shows that Asian parents’ relative attainment (i.e. the high relative educational attainment of parents compared to their non-immigrant counterparts in sending countries) predicts their children’s advantage in college enrolment over whites. More importantly, a considerable portion of the advantage in college enrolment from parents’ relative attainment operates through youths’ academic culture (i.e. parental educational expectations and youths’ effort, school behaviours, and attitudes). Relative attainment explains the advantage in college enrolment over whites only for the 1.5-generation rather than second-generation Asian Americans. This suggests that change in Asian Americans’ academic outcomes across generations appears to be driven by different factors for each generation rather than by gradual declines in the levels of the same factors across generations.
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