The Influence of School Context on Immigrant Youth Adaptation

Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kathryn Harker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This research examines the role of school context in the assimilation processes of immigrant youth using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). We document behavioral differentials in delinquency and aggression by immigrant status and explore school composition and school climate factors as potential mediating mechanisms that may explain the adaptation of immigrant youth toward native norms of behavior. The schools that immigrant youth attend are typically large, urban schools with a substantial immigrant and minority presence, and are characterized by low school cohesion and high student disengagement. We find important school context effects of racial and ethnic composition and student disengagement on delinquency and aggression that are moderated by immigrant status such that immigrant youth are less adversely affected by negative school climate.

Presented in Session 81: Immigrant Adaptation and Settlement Patterns