Assessing the Private Safety Net: Perceptions of Social Support among Minority Immigrant Parents
Traditional assimilation paradigms argue that immigrants are particularly disadvantaged in feelings of marginality and dislocation. Given these paradigms, we explore how minority and immigrant status are associated with perceptions of social support among parents of young children. We use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), a nationally representative sample of children in kindergarten in 1998 and 1999. Most groups of minority immigrant parents, compared to their native-born white counterparts, report lower levels of perceived social support, and this gap persists even when demographic and socioeconomic characteristics are held constant. Additionally, English language ability, but not years spent in the United States, attenuates the disadvantages that Hispanic immigrant parents face in their perceptions of social support compared with white immigrant parents. Finally, Hispanic parents report substantial variation in their perceptions of social support by ethnicity. As social support is an important predictor of parents' economic stability and children's well-being, these findings have important implications for children of immigrants, an important and increasing demographic group in the United States.
Turney, Kristin, and Grace Kao. 2009. “Assessing the Private Safety Net: Perceptions of Social Support among Minority Immigrant Parents.” The Sociological Quarterly 50:666–692.