Black, Hispanic, and White young people from three immigrant generations receive different levels of parent support in the transition to adulthood. But when this was analysed, it was found to be mainly due to different levels of parental income and education, rather than race and immigrant status.

Given that parental support can improve a young person’s life chances, researchers set out to find how race/ethnicity and immigrant status are related to differences in the amount of support young people get from their parents.

Using data on 6,962 young adults from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, the researchers, Jessica Halliday Hardie and Judith A. Seltzer, examined differences in the support parents provide to young adult children in three racial/ethnic groups – Black, Hispanic and White – and in first- and second-generation immigrant families and native-born families.

Much other research has shown that the support parents give young people who are making their own transition to adulthood is a way of passing on inequality: if the parents have more resources, they give their children more. Young people who can rely on their parents for support are in a better position to weather periods of low income, unemployment, and relationship instability.

The young people were asked questions about two kinds of support: “perceived” and “actual.”

To measure perceived support, they were asked how supportive they felt each parent was. Would they go to parents for advice regarding friendships/relationships and employment/education/training?

To measure actual support, the young people were asked whether either or both their parents gave them money; a place to live; or advice on schooling, employment, or finances.

Parents’ education and household poverty explained most of the reduced parental support seen in black and Hispanic families and immigrant families, where young people reported less parental supportiveness, financial support, and discussion of school/jobs/finances.

However, even after accounting for factors like parents’ education and poverty, minority youth are more likely than White youth to live with their parents. First- and second-generation youth are also more likely to live with their parents than native-born youth within each racial/ethnic group. Also, Hispanics of all immigrant generations were less likely to say they would turn to their parents for educational and employment advice, even after considering the role of family background.

Last, after controlling for family background and parental resources, non-immigrant Black youth reported higher levels of parent support than non-immigrant White youth for nearly every measure.

Header photo: J.K. Califf. Creative Commons.