Neighborhood ethnic density as an explanation for the academic achievement of ethnic minority youth placed in neighborhood disadvantage

Na'im MADYUN, Moo Sung Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The underachievement of ethnic minority youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods is a pervasive educational issue this nation is facing. Based on an ecological perspective, we examined the contextual effects of neighborhood ethnic density and neighborhood disadvantage on the academic achievement of Hmong immigrant youths. Utilizing hierarchical linear modeling techniques in analyzing 3,185 Hmong and White students (for comparisons) across 79 neighborhoods, we found when we controlled for student demographics, Hmong students in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods (high-crime and high-poverty) performed better academically than their ethnically identical peers in the more safe and affluent neighborhoods. Further, with student demographics held constant, Hmong adolescents in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods academically outperformed their White counterparts with the same neighborhood eScholarship provides open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide. conditions. These intriguing findings resulted from ethnic density in that the predictor of the Hmong population percentage in each neighborhood appeared to absorb the significant effect of neighborhood types. Hmong students would be more likely to achieve highly when they were surrounded by more Hmong residents in their neighborhoods. The logic behind ethnic density functioning as a positive factor for Hmong students within neighborhoods high in disadvantage is discussed along with the implications of this finding for policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-112
    Number of pages26
    JournalBerkeley Review of Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    Cite this