Neighborhood Coethnic Immigrant Concentrations and Mexican American Children’s Early Academic Trajectories

Jacob Hibel, Matthew Hall
Published in
Springer Link
Publication Date

We use data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 as well as neighborhood data from the 2000 U.S. Census to examine relationships between neighborhood Mexican immigrant concentration and reading (n = 820) and mathematics (n = 1,540) achievement among children of Mexican descent. Mixed-effects growth curves show that children living in immigrant-rich communities enter school at an achievement disadvantage relative to children in neighborhoods with fewer coethnic immigrant families. However, these disparities are driven by lower-SES families’ concentration in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods as well as these neighborhoods’ structural disadvantages.

Controlling for children’s generation status and socioeconomic status, as well as neighborhood-level measures of structural disadvantage, safety, and social support, neighborhood immigrant concentration demonstrates a modest positive association with mathematics achievement among children of Mexican immigrant parents at the time of school entry. However, we do not find strong positive associations between Mexican American children’s rate of achievement growth over the elementary and middle school years and their neighborhoods’ concentration of Mexican immigrants.