The productive role of children in immigrant families

Yader R. Lanuza, Nina Bandelj

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This essay focuses on the productive role of children in immigrant families, and their various resource contributions. We first identify a contemporary understanding of children as targets of emotional and financial investment that parents make to secure their children's future success. This investment model views children as mostly passive receivers of resources. In contrast, we review research that showcases various productive contributions of children in immigrant families, including academic and language help, emotion work, and financial contributions. We end the review by identifying two theoretical perspectives that scholarship on productive role of children in immigrant families relies on, the social exchange theory, and the culture of collectivism. We contrast these two theories with a relational work perspective in economic sociology, which suggests that children's productive role in immigrant families is not only an example of instrumental reciprocity, or expression of collectivism, but part and parcel of relational work that involves dynamic negotiation of economic and social relations within and outside of immigrant families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-435
Number of pages19
JournalTeorija in Praksa
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Economy
  • Family
  • Immigration
  • Resource contributions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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