Research shows that many youths from immigrant families outperform other students in school, a phenomenon referred to as the “immigrant paradox.” A new report suggests, however, that such achievement patterns are even more pronounced for immigrant boys than for their female counterparts.
Writing in the spring issue of The Future of Children, researchers Robert Crosnoe, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Ruth N. López Turley, an associate professor of sociology at Rice University in Houston, say they cannot explain why boys from immigrant families tend to have a particularly strong performance edge over boys whose families have been in the United States for generations. But they point to research showing that the difference in mathematics test scores between middle school children born in another country and those whose families have lived in the United States for two generations or more is 5 percent of a standard deviation for girls but 20 percent of a standard deviation for boys.
They also note that the paradox is more pronounced in secondary school than in elementary school and for immigrant children from Asia and Africa. The latter tendency can be partly explained by the fact that immigrants leaving those continents for the United States are typically more socioeconomically advantaged than are immigrant families coming from a continent such as South America, they say.
The article is part of a special issue of the journal focusing on English-language learners and children from immigrant families.
A version of this article appeared in the April 27, 2011 edition of Education Week as Immigrant Male Students Outperform Females