Jumping on the stem train: Differences in key milestones in the stem pipeline between children of immigrants and natives in the United States

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

We focus our study on children of immigrants in science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) fields because children of immigrants represent a diverse pool of future talent in those fields. We posit that children of immigrants may have a higher propensity to prepare for entering STEM fields, and our analysis finds some evidence to support this conjecture. Using the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS: 88-00) and its restricted postsecondary transcript data, we examine three key milestones in the STEM pipeline: (1) highest math course taken during high school, (2) initial college major in STEM, and (3) bachelor’s degree attainment in STEM. Using individual level NELS data and country-level information from UNESCO and NSF, we find that children of immigrants of various countries of origin, with the exception of Mexicans, are more likely than children of natives to take higher-level math courses during high school. Asian and white children of immigrants are more likely to complete STEM degrees than third-generation whites. Drawing on theories of immigrant incorporation and cultural capital, we discuss the rationales for these patterns and the policy implications of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in the Sociology of Education
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Pages129-154
Number of pages26
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Education
Volume20
ISSN (Print)1479-3539

Keywords

  • Achievement
  • Attainment
  • Children of immigrants
  • Higher education
  • Immigrant incorporation
  • Math
  • Science
  • Second generation
  • STEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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  • Cite this

    Ma, Y., & Lutz, A. C. (2018). Jumping on the stem train: Differences in key milestones in the stem pipeline between children of immigrants and natives in the United States. In Research in the Sociology of Education (pp. 129-154). (Research in the Sociology of Education; Vol. 20). Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-353920180000020006