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The Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) was designed to study the adaptation process of the immigrant second generation. Immigrant second generation is defined broadly as United States-born children with at least one foreign-born parent, or children born abroad but brought at an early age to the United States.
The original survey was conducted with large samples of second-generation immigrant children attending the 8th and 9th grades in public and private schools in the metropolitan areas of Miami/Ft. Lauderdale in Florida and San Diego, California.
Conducted in 1992, the first survey had the purpose of ascertaining baseline information on immigrant families, children's demographic characteristics, language use, self-identities, and academic attainment. The total sample size was 5,262. Respondents came from 77 different nationalities, although the sample reflects the most sizable immigrant nationalities in each area.
Three years later, corresponding to the time in which respondents were about to graduate from high school, the first follow-up survey was conducted. Its purpose was to examine the evolution of key adaptation outcomes including language knowledge and preference, ethnic identity, self-esteem, and academic attainment over the adolescent years. The survey also sought to establish the proportion of second-generation youths who dropped out of school before graduation. This follow-up survey retrieved 4,288 respondents or 81.5 percent of the original sample.
Together with this follow-up survey, a parental survey was conducted. The purpose of this interview was to establish directly characteristics of immigrant parents and families and their outlooks for the future including aspirations and plans for the children. In total, 2,442 parents or 46 percent of the original student sample were interviewed. During 2001-2003, or a decade after the original survey, a final follow-up was conducted. The sample now averaged 24 years of age and, hence, patterns of adaptation in early adulthood could be readily assessed.
The original and follow-up surveys were conducted mostly in schools attended by respondents, greatly facilitating access to them. Most respondents had already left school by the time of the second follow-up so they had to be contacted individually in their place of work or residence. Respondents were located not only in the San Diego and Miami areas, but also in more than 30 different states, with some surveys returned from military bases overseas. Mailed questionnaires were the principal source of completed data in this third survey. In total, CILS-III retrieved complete or partial information on 3,613 respondents representing 68.9 percent of the original sample and 84.3 percent of the first follow-up. Relevant adaptation outcomes measured in this survey include educational attainment, employment and occupational status, income, civil status and ethnicity of spouses/partners, [political attitudes]] and participation, ethnic and racial identities, delinquency and incarceration, attitudes and levels of identification with American society, and plans for the future.
-  DSDR page for Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS), 1991–2006
-  Data Sharing for Demographic Research
-  The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research
-  The Institute for Social Research (at the University of Michigan)
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