kitchen table math, the sequel: the children of immigrants

Thursday, May 26, 2011

the children of immigrants

One surprising characteristic unites the majority of America’s top high school science and math students – their parents are immigrants. While only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition were the children of immigrants, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. Just 12 of the 40 finalists at this year’s competition of the nation’s top high school science students had native-born parents. While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals. Finalists’ parents sponsored through a family preference category represented 7.5 percent of the total, about four times higher than their proportion in the U.S.

THE IMPACT OF THE CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS ON SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENT IN AMERICA (pdf file)
BY STUART ANDERSON

4 comments:

Jo in OKC said...

Maybe because math & science were a ticket up (and/or out) for the parents, so they encourage/urge/require their kids to follow that path?

Or maybe the kids see that's what worked for their parents and copy?

Or maybe because it's easier to do math & science in a math & science household?

Just thinking out loud.....

Anonymous said...

From the article:

"While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals."

So, yes, these kids do have parents who came over on a math/science ticket.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

More from the article:

"To appreciate how remarkable it is that twice as many of the students had parents who received H-1B visas as were native-born, consider that native-born Americans comprise approximately 88 percent of the population and H-1B recipients (past and present) make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. population."

and:

"China and India were the leading countries of origin for the immigrant parents of the student finalists. Sixteen of the children had parents born in China, 10 had parents born in India, one student’s parents were born in South Korea and another was born in Iran. As noted earlier, 12 of the student finalists had native-born parents."

-Mark Roulo

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

This is not a new phenomenon. The "STEM" fields have been dominated by immigrants and children of immigrants for at least 60 years. The difference now is that the immigrants are from Asia more than from Europe.

The "brain drain" of intelligent, highly educated people moving the US has been what has been driving US innovation for a long time. The danger is in blocking the immigration of highly educated people, or in making it more desirable for them to go elsewhere, and having the innovation engine that drove our economy dwindle away.