Another Immigrant Paradox?: The Effect Of Mother's Nativity On Early Childhood Behavior Problems in the U.S.
This paper examines the relationship between mother's nativity and behavior problems among first graders in the United States. Data from the fourth wave (spring 2000) of Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort 1998-1999, a nationally-representative study of students, is used in the analyses. Preliminary comparisons between children of foreign-born mothers and children of native-born mothers suggest that children of foreign-born mothers exhibit fewer internalizing and externalizing behavior problems than children of native-born mothers. Using nested ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models, I analyze whether this effect persists once I control for differences in socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, mother employment status, and family structure across the two groups. After controlling for these covariates, having a foreign-born mother has no effect on behavior for three of the four behavior outcomes modeled. Having a foreign-born mother shows a statistically significant, but very small, effect on one of the externalizing behavior measures. The results suggest that the initial behavioral differences that children of foreign-born mothers display compared to children of native-born mothers are primarily due to differences in the household structure and other characteristics between the two groups. The higher prevalence of two parent homes among children of foreign-born mothers is theorized to be the mediating mechanism.
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