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Science Award Finalists Are Children of
Immigration is a boon to American
science and math, a new report asserts, noting
that 70 percent of the
finalists in a recent prestigious science
competition are the children of immigrants.
The report by the National
Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit
research group in Arlington, Va., states that
many immigrant parents
emphasize hard science and math education
for their children, viewing those fields as
paths to success.
Statistics supporting that
belief: According to a recent Georgetown
University study on the value of undergraduate
majors, the lifetime median annual income for
someone with a bachelor's degree in engineering
is $75,000, compared with $29,000 for a
counseling or psychology major.
[Infographic: Highest-paying College Majors]
That study found that the highest
earners are petroleum engineers, with median
annual earnings of $120,000.
Only 12 percent of Americans are
foreign-born, the NFAP report says. Even so,
children of immigrants
took 70 percent of the finalist slots in the
2011 Intel Science Talent Search Competition,
an original-research competition for high school
Of the 40 finalists, 28 had
parents born in other countries: 16 from China,
10 from India, one from South Korea and one from
"In proportion to their presence
in the U.S. population, one would expect only
one child of an Indian (or Chinese) immigrant
parent every two and a half years to be an Intel
Science Search finalist, not 10 in a year,"
wrote the report's author, NFAP director Stuart
Finalists interviewed for the
report attributed their interest in research to
their parents' attitudes.
"Our parents brought us up with
love of science as a value," David Kenneth Tang-Quan,
whose parents emigrated from China to
California, told Anderson, according to the
children of immigrants face barriers outside of
the education system. According to the
Georgetown report, racial
disparities in pay persist even within science
fields. Whites with an undergraduate
major in engineering out-earn Asians with the
same degree by about $8,000 a year.
African-American and Hispanic engineering
graduates fare worse, making about $60,000 and
$56,000 per year, respectively, compared with
Asians out-earn whites in the
fields of health, law and public policy;
psychology and social work; and biology and life
The fact that children of
immigrants excel in science and math should be
taken into account when making immigration
policy, Anderson wrote: "The results should
serve as a warning against new restrictions on
legal immigration, both family and
employment-based immigration, since such
restrictions are likely to prevent many of the
next generation of outstanding scientists and
researcher from emerging in America."
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