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Lutz, Ma study on differences in the STEM pipeline  published in Research in the Sociology of Edu

Oct 29, 2018

Amy Lutz

Amy Lutz


Yingyi Ma

Yingyi Ma


The authors focus their study on children of immigrants in science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) fields because children of immigrants represent a diverse pool of future talent in those fields. They posit that children of immigrants may have a higher propensity to prepare for entering STEM fields, and their analysis finds some evidence to support this conjecture.

Using the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS: 88-00) and its restricted postsecondary transcript data, the authors examine three key milestones in the STEM pipeline: (1) highest math course taken during high school, (2) initial college major in STEM, and (3) bachelor’s degree attainment in STEM. Using individual level NELS data and country-level information from UNESCO and NSF, they find that children of immigrants of various countries of origin, with the exception of Mexicans, are more likely than children of natives to take higher-level math courses during high school. Asian and white children of immigrants are more likely to complete STEM degrees than third-generation whites. Drawing on theories of immigrant incorporation and cultural capital, the authors discuss the rationales for these patterns and the policy implications of these findings.

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