Mexican American Educational Stagnation: The Role of Family Structure Change

Richard N. Turner, Brown University
Brian C. Thiede, Cornell University

Mexican American high school dropout rates decline markedly between the first and second immigrant generations and, consequently, move closer to non-Hispanic white levels. Nevertheless, the third generation makes little progress in closing the gap with whites despite their parents having more schooling than those of the second on average. With the 2007-2013 March files of the CPS, we examine whether an intergenerational shift away from nuclear parenting contributes to this educational stagnation. We also consider the effect of changes in sibship size. The analysis involves performing decompositions and logistic regressions of high school dropout for adolescents (16-17) of Mexican heritage. We find that Mexican third generation teens are 16 percentage points less likely than second generation peers to live with both biological parents but also have fewer co-resident siblings overall. Collectively, these family structure differences appear to partly counteract the ameliorative influence of rising parental education on third generation dropout.

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Presented in Session 3: Education and Assimilation