Revisiting the Asian American Academic Advantage at the Close of the 20th Century: The Importance of Selective Migration on College Enrollment

Guangyu Tong , Duke University
Angel L. Harris, Princeton University

The notion that Asians possess a superior academic culture is perhaps the most popular explanation for their academic advantage relative to other racial groups within the U.S. However, the “transferred habitus” formed in parental contexts (i.e., the relative selectivity of parents compared to their non-immigrant counterparts in sending countries) is not examined by previous studies. Using data from National Education Longitudinal Study and Barro-Lee dataset, this study shows that academic orientation, work ethic, and parental educational expectation collectively explain a smaller share of first-generation Asian Americans' advantage in college enrollment over whites than the relative attainment of parents (in parents’ educational selectivity). The advantage in college enrollment of second-generation Asian Americans over whites is entirely explained by SES and third-or-above generation Asian Americans are no different from whites.

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 Presented in Session 240. Migration and Educational Outcomes