Poverty dynamics and academic trajectories of children of immigrants

Liwei Zhang, Wen Jui Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 (ECLS-K), we investigated the relationship between poverty and academic trajectories for children in immigrant families in the United States. We used family socioeconomic status (SES) which considers parental education, parental occupation, and family income to define poverty in correspondence with the U.S. federal poverty threshold. Three dimensions of poverty were examined including depth (i.e., not-poor, near-poor, poor or extreme poor), stability (i.e., continuously or intermittently), and duration (i.e., for how many times in poverty). Our results indicated that living in poverty, particularly when it was extreme, volatile, and for long spell could compromise children’s reading and math achievements during the first nine schooling years. Children of immigrants were doing as well as, if not better than, children of native-borns in certain areas (i.e., math) or in facing of certain pattern of poverty (i.e., long-spell). However, deep poverty and volatile changes in family SES could compromise academic achievements for children of immigrants throughout their first nine years of schooling, a period holds important key to their future success. Implications to practice and policy as well as future directions were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1076
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 16 2017


  • Academic trajectories
  • Children of immigrants
  • ECLS-K
  • Poverty dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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