Cynthia Feliciano

Professor of Sociology
PhD, Sociology, University of California Los Angeles
research interests:
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Immigration
  • Education
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1112
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
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Professor Cynthia Feliciano's research investigates the development and consequences of group boundaries and inequalities based on race, ethnicity, class, and gender.

This work primarily, but not exclusively, focuses on how descendants of Latin American and Asian immigrants are incorporated in the United States, a question at the center of prominent theoretical debates, and of great practical importance given current demographic trends. She pursues these issues through two main strands of research: 1) determinants of educational inequality and 2) ethnic and racial boundary-making and relations. Professor Feliciano is the author of Unequal Origins: Immigrant Selection and the Education of the Second Generation (LFB Scholarly 2006), and numerous articles in journals including American Sociological Review, Social Problems, Social Forces, Sociology of Education, and Demography. She received her B.A. from Boston University and her Ph.D. from UCLA, and has been a fellow of the Ford Foundation, the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Program, the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Unequal Origins: Immigrant Selection and the Education of the Second Generation

Unequal Origins: Immigrant Selection and the Education of the Second Generation

Feliciano examines how immigrants compare to those left behind in their origin countries, and how that selection affects the educational adaptation of children of immigrants in the United States. Her findings contradict the assumption that immigrants are negatively selected: nearly all immigrants are more educated than the populations in their home countries, but Asian immigrants are the most highly selected. This helps explain the Asian second generations' superior educational attainment as compared to Europeans, Afro-Caribbeans, or Latin Americans. The book challenges cultural explanations for ethnic differences by highlighting how inequalities in the relative pre-migration educational attainments of immigrants are reproduced among their children in the U.S.