Life pathways of Haitian-American young adults in South Florida

Patricia N Vanderkooy, Florida International University


This research examines the life pathways of 1.5 and second generation Haitian immigrants in South Florida. The purpose of the research is to better understand how integration occurs for the children of Haitian immigrants as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Building upon a prior study of second-generation immigrant adolescents between 1995 and 2000, a sub-set of the original participants was located to participate in this follow-up research. Qualitative interviews were conducted as well as in-depth ethnographic research, including participant observation. Survey instruments used with other second-generation populations were also administered, enabling comparisons with the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS). The results indicate that educational and occupational achievements were markedly below the participants’ original expectations as adolescents. Gender figures prominently in participants’ familial roles and relationships, with men and women distinctly incorporating both Haitian and American cultural practices within their households. Contrary to previous research, these results on the identification of participants suggest that these young adults claim attachment to both Haiti and to the United States. The unique longitudinal and ethnographic nature of this study contributes to the ongoing discussion of the integration of the children of immigrants by demonstrating significant variation from the prior integration trends observed with Haitian adolescents. The results cast doubt on existing theory on the children of immigrants for explaining the trajectory of Haitian-American integration patterns. Specifically, this research indicates that Haitians are not downwardly mobile and integrating as African Americans. They have higher education and economic standing than their parents and are continuing their education well into their thirties. The respondents have multiple identities in which they increasingly express identification with Haiti, but in some contexts are also developing racialized identifications with African Americans and others of the African diaspora.

Subject Area

Black studies|Cultural anthropology|Caribbean Studies|Developmental psychology|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Vanderkooy, Patricia N, "Life pathways of Haitian-American young adults in South Florida" (2011). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3472038.