Can Ethnicity Transcend Race and Poverty? Insights from Source Country Variation in Immigrant Student Achievement

July 2006

Dylan Conger, School of Public Policy and Public Administration, The George Washington University.

Download paper here.


Today’s immigrant children are predominantly poor and nonwhite yet many outperform their native-born same-race peers in school. One predominant theory suggests that the social capital of some immigrant communities buffer children from the negative effects of poverty, minority race, and failing inner-city schools. This paper asks how frequently and for which immigrant does this ethnic advantage transcend racial and socioeconomic barriers to achievement. The paper compares the 27 largest source country groups in New York City to white native-born on their background characteristics, schools, and test scores. It searches for examples of ethnicity transcending race and poverty in those groups who are poor and nonwhite but who test equal to or above white native-born students. Few such examples are found.

Educational Attainment, Immigration