Age at Immigration and the Adult Attainments of Child Migrants to the United States

September 2012
With Audrey Beck and Miles Corak; The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 643, No. 1

Age at arrival matters for schooling outcomes in a way predicted by child development theory: The chances of being a high school dropout increase significantly each year for children who arrive after the age of eight. We document this process for immigrants from a number of regions relative to appropriate comparison regions. Using instrumental variables we find that the variation in education outcomes associated with variation in age at arrival influences adult outcomes that reflect values important to the American mainstream, notably English language proficiency and intermarriage. We conclude that children experience migration differently from adults depending upon the timing of migration, and we show that migration during the early years of child development influences educational outcomes. We also find that the variation in education induced by the interaction of migration and age at arrival changes the capacity of children to become fully integrated into the American mainstream as adults