Echoes of Home: Home Country Natural Disasters and the Academic Outcomes of Immigrant Students

Agustina Laurito , University of Illinois at Chicago

This paper studies the effect of home country natural disasters on the academic performance of immigrant students in NYC. To do so, I exploit the random timing of natural disasters relative to standardized testing dates in models with student fixed effects. While prior research finds that children are affected by adverse events in their neighborhoods, this paper finds that events in immigrants’ home countries can also affect their school performance. Students exposed to home country natural disasters in the year before taking a test score between 0.04 and 0.05 standard deviations lower in reading. These results are robust to a number of specifications. Drops in test scores are larger for older students, and recent immigrant students, but I see no large differences between boys and girls. Considering that children spend much of their time at school, I also investigate the role of schools in ameliorating (or not) these effects.

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 Presented in Session 88. Adverse Experiences Among Children and Youth in Immigrant Families