Immigrant Replenishment and Mexican American High School Dropout

Richard N. Turner, Brown University

Though Mexican Americans make impressive gains in educational attainment across immigrant generations, they complete high school at substantially lower rates than non-Hispanic whites, irrespective of nativity status. Drawing on recent research into immigrant schooling patterns as well as new developments in assimilation theory (Jimenez, 2010), this paper investigates whether continued large-scale migration from Mexico (“replenishment”) influences Mexican American adolescents’ likelihood of graduating high school. Specifically, the 2009-2011 files of the American Community Survey are used to estimate the effect of local immigrant concentration on Mexican-origin teenagers’ odds of dropout. There is an expectation that replenishment harms schooling outcomes by hindering English acquisition but, at the same time, improves them by reinforcing immigrant optimism. Significant results are only obtained in the case of second generation Mexican Americans, who are at greater risk of dropping out of high school in areas with relatively more co-ethnic immigrants.

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Presented in Session 25: Immigrant Assimilation