Buffering negative effects of immigration on cognitive, social, and educational development: A multinational meta‐analysis of child and adolescent prevention programmes

Andreas Beelmann, Louisa S. Arnold, Sebastian Schulz
Published Online:
13 Nov 2020

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Growing up in migrant families is a well‐known distal risk factor related to poorer outcomes in child and adolescent health, academic, socioemotional and behavioural development. This article reviews the effects of various prevention measures such as early education programmes, cognitive and language training or parent and teacher training on child and adolescent developmental outcomes in immigration samples. Using several comprehensive literature searches, we found 138 research reports with 141 studies and 175 comparisons on preventing negative effects of immigration. Overall, programmes yielded an effect size of d = 0.26 at post‐test using the random effect model. These effects decreased over time while still differing significantly from zero. A cross‐tabulation of prevention approach/programme type by different outcome domains revealed several important results such as high effects of child cognitive and language training programmes on child academic and language outcomes and relatively low effects of all programmes on child socioemotional outcomes. In addition, individualised and culturally tailored programmes seems to be more effective. However, generalised effects on more distal educational outcomes (e.g., school degrees) were generally weak. Hence, it remains questionable whether individual psychosocial and educational programmes are able to counterbalance the multifaceted risks of immigration.

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