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New Op-Eds by RSF Scholars

August 24, 2015

Several of the Foundation's former Visiting Scholars, and RSF Robert K. Merton Scholar Robert Solow, have recently published new op-eds detailing some of their ongoing research.

Last week, writing for the New York Times, former Visiting Scholar Mark VanLandingham outlined the factors that contributed to the high rate of return of the Vietnamese to New Orleans following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. While some commentators have attributed the post-Katrina success of the Vietnamese to cultural values specific to Asian immigrants, VanLandingham explained that their recovery was enabled by a confluence of several different advantages, including the economic and social capital they possessed prior to the hurricane. As he writes:

First, consider that Vietnamese-Americans in New Orleans represent a select group of Vietnamese. Specifically, those who came to the United States were wealthier than those who stayed behind in Vietnam. (A spot on a departing vessel was too expensive for many.) First-generation Vietnamese in New Orleans also score better on measures of general health than do their counterparts in Vietnam. Because of the forces of selection underlying migration, the Vietnamese in America are not representative of the Vietnamese overall — challenging the idea of some shared cultural superiority. Read more

Former Visiting Scholars and RSF authors Karthick Ramakrishnan and Jennifer Lee also recently penned new articles drawing from their research. Responding in the Washington Post to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comments on undocumented immigrants entering the U.S., Ramakrishnan pointed out in a new op-ed that

states have become much more robustly engaged on immigration regulation, a process that started in the 1970s and has accelerated in the past decade. Federal courts have limited the scope of some of these efforts. Most notably, in 2012, the Supreme Court’s United States v. Arizona decision severely restricted how much states could independently get involved in immigration enforcement. Nevertheless, states are much more central players on immigration regulation now than, say, during the 1930s. Back then, the federal government enlisted the help of states and counties to forcibly repatriate upwards of 1 million Mexican immigrants and their U.S.-born children to Mexico. Read more

Recent Immigration to Canada and the United States: A Mixed Tale of Relative Selection

August 19, 2015

The August issue of the International Migration Review contains a new report by former Visiting Scholars Neeraj Kaushal and Yao Lu (Columbia University). During their time in residence, Kaushal and Lu compared immigrant selection and assimilation in Canada and the U.S., focusing in particular on how immigration trends in both countries have shifted since 1990. They assessed the relative selection of immigrants to both countries with respect to levels of education, host country language proficiency, and initial earnings. They also investigated the relative economic well-being of immigrants in these two countries after adjusting for different levels of immigrant selection.

Their findings are contained in the new article for IMR, which is available for free download from the Foundation's website. The abstract states:

Using large-scale census data and adjusting for sending-country fixed effect to account for changing composition of immigrants, we study relative immigrant selection to Canada and the U.S. during 1990-2006, a period characterized by diverging immigration policies in the two countries. Results show a gradual change in selection patterns in educational attainment and host-country language proficiency in favor of Canada as its post-1990 immigration policy allocated more points to the human capital of new entrants. Specifically, in 1990, new immigrants in Canada were less likely to have a B.A. degree than those in the U.S.; they were also less likely to have a highschool or lower education. By 2006, Canada surpassed the U.S. in drawing highly educated immigrants, while continuing to attract fewer low-educated immigrants. Canada also improved its edge over the U.S. in terms of host-country language proficiency of new immigrants. Entry-level earnings, however, do not reflect the same trend: Recent immigrants to Canada have experienced a wage disadvantage compared to recent immigrants to the U.S., as well as Canadian natives. One plausible explanation is that while the Canadian points system has successfully attracted more educated immigrants, it may not be effective in capturing productivity-related traits that are not easily measurable.

The Asian American Achievement Paradox in the News

August 18, 2015

The Asian American Achievement Paradox, a new RSF book by sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou, recently has been cited in the news. In the wake of a renewed conversation in the media on so-called “tiger” parenting and Asian Americans’ sizeable presence at elite universities, co-author Jennifer Lee spoke with several outlets about the findings in the book, including BBC World News, BlogHer, and Inside Higher Education. As Lee explained in an interview with The Gist, while many pundits have claimed that Asian Americans’ high educational attainment reflects unique cultural values, her research with Zhou bridges sociology and social psychology to explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture all interact to foster high educational achievement among certain Asian American groups.

Lee also expanded these points in an August op-ed for CNN, writing, “Zhou and I explain what actually fuels the achievements of some Asian American groups: U.S. immigration law, which favors highly educated, highly skilled immigrant applicants from Asian countries.” These immigrants bring with them a specific “success frame,” which requires earning a degree from an elite university and working in a high-status field. These goals are reinforced in many local Asian communities, which make resources such as college preparation courses and tutoring available to group members, including their low-income members. And, Lee noted in an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Because of the hyperselectivity of Asian immigrants, Asian-American students are benefiting from this perception that all Asian-Americans are highly educated and work hard and are high-achieving. Being viewed through the lens of the positive stereotype can enhance the performance of Asian-American students.”

RSF Author Jennifer Lee Interviewed by U.S. Embassy in New Zealand

July 14, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Jennifer Lee (University of California, Irvine) recently visited New Zealand to deliver a keynote address at the Population Association of New Zealand conference. During her time in Wellington, she participated in an interview at the U.S. Embassy and discussed diversity and population trends in America.

New Awards Approved in Russell Sage Foundation’s Core Programs

July 8, 2015

Several new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s core programs were funded at the Foundation’s June meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Awards approved in the Behavioral Economics program:

Mental Accounting and Fungibility of Money: Evidence from a Retail Panel
Jesse Shapiro (Harvard University) and Justine Hastings (Brown University)

Jesse Shapiro and Justine Hastings will complete a project that provide new tests of "mental accounting," or how households represent money in their financial decision-making. They will draw from unique panel data on seven years of customer purchases from a large grocery retailer in order to glean new insights into mental accounting through a real-world scenario.

Behavioral Biases and the Design of Student Loan Repayment Schemes
Lesley J. Turner, Kathleen Abraham, Emel Filiz-Ozbay, and Erkut Ozbay (University of Maryland)

Lesley J. Turner and colleagues will investigate the factors that affect students’ loan repayments, including the relationship between students’ expected earnings and their preference for income-based repayment plans, and whether students’ repayment behavior is affected by whether they voluntarily choose income-based plan or are instead assigned to one.

RSF Author Jennifer Lee Named Chair-Elect of ASA Section on International Migration

June 17, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Jennifer Lee (UC Irvine) has been selected as chair-elect of the American Sociological Association Section on International Migration. One of 52 special interest groups within the association, the International Migration section aims to stimulate, promote, and reward the development of original theory and research on international migration. During her term, Lee aims to make scholarly research in the field of international migration more accessible to the public audience by connecting it to pressing policy debates.

Lee was a Visiting Scholar at the Foundation during the academic year of 2011-2012. She is co-author with Frank Bean of the RSF book The Diversity Paradox (2010), and co-author with Min Zhou of the newly released RSF book The Asian American Achievement Paradox (2015). In The Asian American Achievement Paradox, Lee and Zhou offer a compelling account of the academic achievement of the children of Asian immigrants—which pundits have long attributed to unique cultural values. Drawing on in-depth interviews with the adult children of Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees and survey data, Lee and Zhou bridge sociology and social psychology to correct this myth and explain how immigration laws, institutions, and culture interact to foster high achievement among certain Asian American groups.

Lee's one-year term as chair of the ASA Section on International Migration begins in August 2015.

Mass Deportations and the Future of Latino Partisanship

June 15, 2015

With support from the Russell Sage Foundation, political scientists Alex Street and Chris Zepeda-Millán, in collaboration with Michael Jones-Correa, conducted an online survey of more than 1,200 second generation Latinos to test whether socialization experiences are shaped by the responses of parents, children, and other political actors to the unique situation of U.S. citizens with undocumented parents. Among other consequences, they explore the effects of knowledge of deportations among second generation Latinos, especially on the evaluations of Democratic and Republican parties.

They discuss their findings in a new article for Social Science Quarterly. The abstract states:

The U.S. government continues to deport large numbers of undocumented Latino immigrants. In this new article, authors Alex Street, Chris Zepeda-Millan, and Michael Jones-Correa address the likely effects of these policies on Latino partisanship. Usiung a survey experiment to test the effects of information about mass deportations on partisan evaluations among young second-generation Latinos, the authors find that young U.S.-born Latinos view the Democratic Party as less welcoming when informed that deportations have been higher under President Obama than under his predecessor. Because most young U.S.-born Latinos are either weak partisans or political independents, there is wide scope for information effects among these potential voters. The authors find that mass deportation policies have the potential to reshape the partisanship and politics of Latinos for years to come.

RSF Author and Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut Elected to AAAS

May 22, 2015

RSF author and former Visiting Scholar Rubén G. Rumbaut (UC Irvine) has been elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. As one of the founding members of the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, Rumbaut is internationally known and widely cited for his research on children and young adults raised in immigrant families of diverse nationalities and socioeconomic classes. Rumbaut, who testified before the U.S. Congress at hearings on comprehensive immigration reform, was elected in 2013 to the National Academy of Education in recognition of his outstanding contributions in educational research and policy development.

Rumbaut is the co-editor of the 2003 RSF book Immigration Research for a New Century and a contributor to several RSF volumes on immigration, including The New Second Generation (1996), Handbook of International Migration (1999), and The Changing Face of Home (2006). In his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation during the academic year of 1997-98, Rumbaut studied the participation of children of immigrants in American educational, social and economic life. Drawing upon large bodies of research in San Diego and Miami, Rumbaut focused on the progress of Latin, Asian, and Caribbean youth. His work provided a nuanced and cross-group understanding of how these second-generation youth varied in their language and ethnic identity, school aspirations and achievement, and psychological well-being. He also explored how their adaptation was shaped by family, school, and factors like racial discrimination.

New Report: The Transmission of Educational Attainment Within Immigrant Families

May 13, 2015

Second Generation Trajectories, a project funded under the Foundation’s past Immigration program, focused on the long-term prospects of second generation immigrants—or children of post-1965 immigrants who were born in the United States or were brought from abroad at an early age. Sociologists Roger Waldinger (UCLA) and Renee Reichl Luthra (University of Essex) studied ethnicity, politics, and socio-economic mobility among the contemporary immigrant second generation, drawing on data from three large original data-collection projects funded by the Russell Sage Foundation: the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), the Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles (IIMMLA) study, and the Immigrant Second Generation in Metropolitan New York (ISGMNY) study. The investigators examined the data in concert to analyze the variation in second generation outcomes and assess whether immigrant offspring moved beyond, moved ahead, or simply reproduced their parents’ socioeconomic status.

Luthra’s most recent report, published in the latest issue of Demography, examines the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment between parents and children. The abstract states:

One in five U.S. residents under the age of 18 has at least one foreign-born parent. Given the large proportion of immigrants with very low levels of schooling, the strength of the intergenerational transmission of education between immigrant parent and child has important repercussions for the future of social stratification in the United States. We find that the educational transmission process between parent and child is much weaker in immigrant families than in native families and, among immigrants, differs significantly across national origins. We demonstrate how this variation causes a substantial overestimation of the importance of parental education in immigrant families in studies that use aggregate data. We also show that the common practice of "controlling" for family human capital using parental years of schooling is problematic when comparing families from different origin countries and especially when comparing native and immigrant families. We link these findings to analytical and empirical distinctions between group- and individual-level processes in intergenerational transmission.

New Report: Gatekeepers of the American Dream

May 5, 2015

The journal Social Science Research recently published a new paper co-authored by RSF grantee Chandra Muller (University of Texas, Austin) and Sarah Blanchard. In her 2006 RSF project, Muller explored how schools facilitated the integration of immigrant youth into civic society through exposure to civics related curricula. She also examined how the retention or loss of a native language affected young immigrants’ integration into civic society, and whether having peers who spoke the same native language affected their integration.

In her most recent paper, Muller draws from this research to look specifically at how teachers' perceptions of their immigrant, language-minority students affects those students' academic achievement. The abstract of the paper states:

High school teachers evaluate and offer guidance to students as they approach the transition to college based in part on their perceptions of the student's hard work and potential to succeed in college. Their perceptions may be especially crucial for immigrant and language-minority students navigating the U.S. educational system. Using the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), we consider how the intersection of nativity and language-minority status may (1) inform teachers' perceptions of students' effort and college potential, and (2) shape the link between teachers' perceptions and students' academic progress towards college (grades and likelihood of advancing to more demanding math courses). We find that teachers perceive immigrant language-minority students as hard workers, and that their grades reflect that perception. However, these same students are less likely than others to advance in math between the sophomore and junior years, a critical point for preparing for college. Language-minority students born in the U.S. are more likely to be negatively perceived. Yet, when their teachers see them as hard workers, they advance in math at the same rates as nonimmigrant native English speaking peers. Our results demonstrate the importance of considering both language-minority and immigrant status as social dimensions of students' background that moderate the way that high school teachers' perceptions shape students' preparation for college.

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