Cultural InfluencesImmigrant Youths: Adapting to a New Land

Over the past several decades, increasing numbers of immigrants have come to the United States, fleeing war and persecution in their homelands or seeking better life chances. Today, one-fourth of U.S. children and adolescents have foreign-born parents, mostly originating from Latin American, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Although some move with their parents, nearly 90 percent of young people from immigrant families are U.S.-born citizens.


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How well are these youths—now the fastest growing sector of the U.S. youth population—adapting to their families’ new country? To find out, researchers use multiple research methods: academic testing, questionnaires assessing psychological adjustment, and in-depth ethnographies.

Academic Achievement and Adjustment

Although educators and laypeople often assume that the transition to a new country has a negative impact on psychological well-being, many children of immigrant parents adapt amazingly well. Students who are first generation (foreign-born) or second generation (American-born, with immigrant parents) often achieve in school as well as or better than students of native-born parents