According to Boustan and Abramitzky, the secret weapon deployed by immigrant parents wasn’t education. It wasn’t a demanding parenting style like the one described in Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” either.
It was geographic mobility.
Immigrant kids tended to outperform their peers from similar economic backgrounds because, unencumbered by deep hometown roots, their parents were willing to move to where the jobs were. If you compare immigrants to similar native kids born in the same place, they succeed at similar rates. It’s just that immigrant kids are much more likely to have grown up in one of those high-opportunity places.
“Immigrants are living in locations that provide upward mobility for everyone,” Boustan said.
Here is the full article, which also argues that recent immigrants have been climbing the economic ladder no slower than in the days of Ellis Island. By Andrew Van Dam, based on the work of Leah Boustan and Ran Abramitzky.