CRCW Research

Immigrant and Migrant Children and Families

The role of families in promoting intergenerational success is especially important for immigrant and migrant children. A number of Center for Research on Child Wellbeing associates are engaged in research that explores various aspects of this issue.

Princeton Global Network on Child Migration

Marta Tienda and Sara McLanahan are leading a multidisciplinary research initiative that examines the wellbeing of migrant children and youth in both developed and developing countries. This work aims to identify the long-term consequences of population movements, with an eye to policies addressing the social and economic inequalities that may result. To gain perspective on the range of empirical research and available data on this topic, they are collaborating with researchers from at least 10 different nations that work in such fields as demography, economics, and psychology.

Tienda and McLanahan have commissioned two review papers, hosted a conference in Bellagio, Italy (2008), and held a policy workshop at Princeton University (2009). In addition, Audrey Beck is using international census data to conduct a multi-country comparative analysis of the variation in family arrangements among, and between, youth with migrant backgrounds and native-born (to non-immigrant parents) youth. Through a grant funded by the Jacobs Foundation, she is also examining how the types of and changes in living arrangements impact academic achievement and other indicators of youth development. A recent volume of The Future of Children is dedicated to Immigrant Children, and future plans for this Children of Migration Network include a conference volume sponsored by the Jacobs Foundation.

Other Projects

Alicia Adsera is comparing the economic situations of immigrant families in Europe to those of more settled families, revealing a significant lag in earnings for recent immigrants. She also looks at how these experiences differ among immigrants based on gender and national origin.

Patricia Fernández-Kelly is investigating the conditions surrounding second generation immigrants in Southern Florida and Southern California. She is exploring the ways that young people are adapting to a pluralistic society and discovering innovative ways to define that which is American. She is also studying the extent to which the healthcare system is meeting the needs of immigrants in Miami, Florida and Trenton, New Jersey.

Douglas Massey and his colleagues in the U.S. and Latin America have been involved in the collection of several large data sets, including the Mexican Migration Project (MMP); the Latin American Migration Project (LAMP), which focuses on documented and undocumented emigrants from Mexico and Latin America to the U.S.; and the New Immigrant Survey (NIS), which is the first-ever longitudinal survey of immigrants to the U.S. Massey is also the author of Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Age of Economic Integration, which analyzes the history of Mexico-U.S. immigration. Massey co-edited a special volume of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Continental Divides: International Migration in the Americas, that used the MMP and LAMP datasets to draw new insight into international migration. Much of his current work concentrates on the assimilation and integration of immigrants over generations, including a study of new immigrant destinations with Marta Tienda and a recent book, Brokered Boundaries: Creating Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times.

Alejandro Portes has been directing the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) since the early 1990s. CILS helps researchers examine the adaptation processes of the immigrant second generation, defined as U.S.-born children with at least one foreign-born parent or children born abroad but brought at an early age to the United States. Portes recently began a new survey of immigrant children in Spain.

CRCW associates have also recently edited The Future of Children volume "Immigrant Children."


Princeton University