Ethnic identity, self-esteem and academic factors in second -generation post-1970 Jamaican immigrants

Victor Osmond Wallen, Florida International University


Immigrants from Jamaica represent the largest number of migrants to the United States from the English speaking Caribbean. Research indicates that of all Caribbean immigrants they are most likely to retain the ethnic identity of their home country for the longest period of time. This dissertation explored the nature of ethnic identity and sought to determine its impact upon the additional variables of self-esteem and academic factors. A secondary analysis was carried out using data collected in the Spring of 1992 by Portes and Rumbaut on the children of immigrants attending the eighth and ninth grades in local schools in San Diego and southern Florida. A sample of 151 second-generation Jamaican immigrants was selected from the data set. Six hypotheses yielded mixed results. Both parents who have a Jamaican ethnic identity present in the household are the best predictor Jamaican youth who retain a Jamaican ethnic identity. It was expected that ethnic identity would be a predictor of positive academic factors. The study showed that ethnic identity was not associated with one of the academic factors which were examined: help given with homework. Neither family economic status nor parents' level of education played a significant role in the retention of Jamaican identity. Other findings were that there was no mean difference in the self-esteem scores of respondents who had similar ethnic identities to their parents and those who did not. There was also no difference found in the academic factors of either group. The study also showed that there was a small correlation between parent-child conflict and self-esteem. Specifically, the study found that the higher the conflict between youth and their parents, the lower the self-esteem of the youth. Finally it found that time lived in the U.S. was the best predictor of a higher GPA and it was also related to lower self-esteem. Surprisingly, the study found that the relationship between ethnic identity and SES was the opposite of what was expected in that it found that SES was higher when there was no Jamaican identity.

Subject Area

Social work|Ethnic studies|Public policy|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Wallen, Victor Osmond, "Ethnic identity, self-esteem and academic factors in second -generation post-1970 Jamaican immigrants" (2001). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3013187.