Immigrant Children’s Behavioral Advantage: The Role of Family Household Structure and Stability in Immigrant Paradox

Jeehye Kang , Old Dominion University

Using a longitudinal sample of children in kindergarten to second grade (age 5 to 8) from ECLS-K: 2011, this study examines how the family living arrangements—structures and stability— are associated with children’s behavioral outcomes across race and ethnicity; and, to what extent, the family living arrangements explain immigrant children’s paradoxically healthy outcomes. Hybrid random effects regression results show that the effects of family living arrangements vary across racial groups. For black and Hispanic children, single-parent family structures, but not family transitions, exert negative effects on behavioral development. The opposite pattern holds for Asian children. Multigenerational households, whether single- or two-parent families, do not benefit children. The Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition model reveals that the distribution of family household structures substantially explain the externalizing behavioral disparities for black children, but only partially the internalizing behavioral disparities for Hispanic children. For Asian children, family living arrangements little explain the immigrant advantage.

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 Presented in Session 122. Family Contexts and Child Well-being