Birth Status, Family Structure, and School Readiness among Mexican Immigrant Children

Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas at Austin
Elizabeth M. Wildsmith, University of Texas at Austin

Children from Mexican immigrant families have substantially lower levels of school readiness than do White children. Mexican origin women also have higher levels of non-marital fertility than do White women. This study used the ECLS-K to explore whether differences in birth status and in family structure mediate the relationship between race/ethnicity and school readiness, as measured by math achievement in kindergarten. We found that children born to unmarried parents scored almost 3 points lower on achievement tests than did children born to married parents. However, this disadvantage was much less for Mexican immigrant children relative to White children. Though a higher prevalence of cohabitation among the biological parents of Mexican immigrant children offered some protection against the disadvantages of being born to unmarried parents, this was offset by the fact that White children were more likely to live in step families which have particularly negative effects on achievement.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture