Diversity in Schools: Immigrants and the Educational Performance of U.S.-Born Students

David Figlio, University of Rochester, Paola Giuliano, UCLA, Riccardo Marchingiglio, Analysis Group, Umut Ozek, RAND Corporation, and Paola Sapienza, Northwestern University

We study the effect of exposure to immigrants on the educational outcomes of U.S.-born students, using a unique dataset combining population-level birth and school records from Florida. This research question is complicated by substantial school selection of U.S.-born students, especially among White and comparatively affluent students, in response to the presence of immigrant students in the school. We propose a new identification strategy, comparing sibling outcomes with the inclusion of family fixed effects, to partial out the unobserved non-random selection into schools. We find that the presence of immigrant students has a positive effect on the academic achievement of U.S.-born students, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, the presence of immigrants does not negatively affect the performance of affluent U.S.-born students, who typically show a higher academic achievement compared to immigrant students. We provide suggestive evidence on potential channels.