Segmented Assimilation and Adolescent Outcomes: The Evolution of Educational and Occupational Expectations

Christina Diaz, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tests of segmented assimilation theory have produced mixed findings with respect to outcomes of first- and second-generation youth. However, these studies focus exclusively on completed education or labor market outcomes when in fact the theory describes a process of orientation away from schooling and dominant culture for some immigrant youth. As such, I revisit this theory by documenting attitudes toward school and work as they evolve during adolescence. Studying both educational and occupational expectations better captures the ideational change that is central to segmented assimilation theory. I employ the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 to assess whether attitudes toward school and work diverge among immigrant groups over time – as predicted by segmented assimilation – or if these are already distinct by adolescence. If there is evidence for heterogeneous aspirations or expectations, I ask when this occurs and determine the implications for human capital attainment.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Migration and Urbanization; Population, Development and the Environment