Social mobility much easier in France and Sweden

Nieuws | de redactie
23 november 2012 | School results of second generation migrants in Europe differ substantially from country to country. Second-generation Turks are far more successful in France than in Germany. What are the reasons?

Education is one of the most crucial indicators for assessing the overall position of the second generation. A study done by NICIS devotes an important part to the topic of education. Researchers Maurice Crul, Philipp Schnell, Barbara Herzog-Punzenberger, Maren Wilmes, Marieke Slootman and Rosa Aparicio Gómez compared school results for several ethnic groups across European countries and cities and investigated educational gaps with the comparison group.

The study finds large variation across the different second-generation groups, within the second-generation groups in different cities and between the second generation and the youth of native parentage. The differences among the Turkish groups across countries and cities are especially interesting and surprisingly large.

Big differences among second-generation Turks

Comparing educational data of second-generation Turks for example, the study shows important differences between countries. Turkish youth in two German and Austrian cities and in Antwerp is for the largest part (over three quarters) in the vocational track or in the apprenticeship system and a very large group leaves school early. This is characterized as ‘low mobility’.

‘Slow mobility’ is shown in two Swiss cities: the majority of the Turkish second generation successfully enters the apprenticeship system. There are relatively few early school leavers.

‘Polarisation’ is the main feature of second-generation Turks in the Dutch cities and in Brussels and Strasburg: the trend is a significant share of respondents experiencing strong upward mobility and an almost equally big share leaving school early.

‘Fast upward mobility’ is seen with second-generation Turks in Stockholm and Paris: since access to higher education is less dependent on parental or other background characteristics and few students leave school early, the second generation experiences a generalised strong upward social mobility in relation to their parents’ generation.

The position of the second generation at school highly differs from country to country. In all cases, however, the second generation still lags behind their peers of native-born parents. The main differences with the comparison group occur at extreme ends of the educational spectrum. More second-generation youngsters are early school leavers and fewer are able to access higher education.

Female students close the gap

The vocational track receives the majority of the second-generation youth in the survey, between half to three quarters being found there. Some only get as far as the first step and become early school leavers, while others climb the ladder higher and finish an apprenticeship that gives access to middle-level positions in the labour market. There is, however, also a considerable group of second-generation youth found in post-secondary or tertiary education. Second-generation females in most cases closed the gender gap up to the highest level.

Access to tertiary education is one of the areas where country and city variation is largest. This means that in some cities the second generation is already quite visible in higher education institutions, while in others this group is still very small.

The point of departure was to assume that more open educational systems in countries like Sweden and France are better suited to include the children of Turkish immigrants in higher education than the more stratified school systems of Germany and Austria Belgium and the Netherlands, with their more mixed systems, would fall somewhere in between.

The researchers also assumed that more vocationally oriented systems would probably do a better job retaining this more vulnerable group in the educational system. Empirical data do indeed show a strong effect of the integration context. The outcomes of the study, however, show a much more complex reality than predicted based on these general school system characteristics.

The full NICIS-report can be downloaded here.

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