Mexican Americans most 'successful' second-generation immigrants
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Looking at immigrant groups in the Los Angeles area, the report issued from the study --“The Success Frame and Achievement Paradox: The Cost and Consequences for Asian-Americans” -- reinforces stereotypical notions that Asian, particularly Chinese, immigrants exceed other groups as far as educational outcomes are concerned. For example, 64 percent of second-generation Chinese immigrants attain an undergraduate-level education, compared with 46 percent of U.S.-born whites. Twenty-two percent of second-generation Chinese-Americans go on to earn graduate degrees.
The point of the study, according to Professor Lee, was to reframe the debate about what success means.
The authors argue, though, that the success of Chinese-Americans is due, in large part, to the advantages with which they start. The parents of both Asian-American and Mexican-American students place a high value on education. But Asian-American kids tend to also have strong educational role models, as well as family and community support for their schooling. The parents of second-generation Asian immigrants also tend to be well-educated themselves, seek good schools for their kids and push them to do well.
However, Mexican-Americans’ high school graduation rate was more than twice their parents’, while their college graduation rate more than doubled that of their fathers’ and tripled that of their mothers’. Professor Lee feels it’s clear that, when success is measured as inter-generational progress, Mexican-Americans come out on top.
The study’s authors “wanted to understand how parents’ position and parents’ immigration status, how their level of education, how all of these factors then shape how the second generation frames success… to reframe the debate about success.”
According to Professor Lee, Mexican-Americans “come [to the U.S.] much more poorly educated than the average American, they have a lot more catching up to do just to get to where the average American is.” What their children achieve is tremendous educational and economic progress.