05 SES 13, Poverty, Diversity and Aspirations among At-risk Students
Education is one of the main prerequisites for social integration and placement into society for both immigrants and non-immigrants. Looking at immigrant-specific educational inequalities, scientific approaches centre on the mechanisms of a lack of host country-related resources (e.g. language resources) on the one hand, and higher educational aspirations of immigrants on the other. Explanations of higher aspirations of immigrants (e.g. Kristen and Dollmann 2010; Van de Werfhorst and Van Tubergen 2007; Salikutluk 2016) sometimes hint explicitly or implicitly to a higher value of education for immigrants.
Our research interests centre on the value of education, i.e. the value immigrants and non-immigrants assign to education in terms of status acquisition and ‘getting on’ later in life. Conceptualising the value of education, we focus on the perceived benefit of education. Second and subordinate, we empirically explore the question if and how the value of education links to idealistic and realistic educational aspirations, and thus how it may impact educational decision-making. We focus on the link between the value of education and educational aspirations, i.e. which educational trajectory students intend to follow after secondary schooling (tertiary education versus a path below tertiary education). While idealistic aspirations relate to ideals, realistic aspirations relate to actual opportunities (perceived as realisable in light of the structural conditions; Wicht 2016, 1827).
We will compare four countries: Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and England. These countries resemble different institutional settings regarding immigrant integration (Migrant Integration Policy Index; MIPEX) and education systems. Our main arguments are that perceived (general) integration policies affect how immigrants differ from non-immigrants in their value of education. Two contrasting arguments will be put forward: Following a) the discouragement hypothesis that is based on human-capital theory, a perceived lack of support in regard to migrants’ integration and a perceived institutional discrimination, should lower educational aspirations of migrants, as they may think that they cannot transfer their educational investments into educational outcomes and returns on education in settings that are not of favour of migrants’ integration. Following this argument, the positive distinction of migrants in comparison to non-migrants in educational aspirations should be lower in England (UK), the Netherlands and Germany than in Sweden. The need-for-education hypothesis (b) is based on theories on migration-specific educational aspirations with their idea that education is essential for migrants’ integration. This argument may particularly be true for countries where migrants’ integration is not supported via other institutional settings and where education is in fact one of the few opportunities for social integration in the labour market. While in a country with a generally low level of inequalities and a strong institutional support of migrants’ integration (like Sweden), migrants may feel that they can also succeed without striving more for higher education than the natives do, the gap between them and the non-migrants in educational aspirations may be smaller in countries where education is the only way to succeed while other measures that support integration are not available. That implies, the positive distinction of migrants in comparison to non-migrants in educational aspirations should be stronger in Germany, the Netherlands or England (UK) than in Sweden.
We will analyse the research questions employing the data of the international project ‘Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries’ (CILS4EU). The data allow for comparisons of the value of education and educational aspirations between immigrants and non-immigrants in these four countries, as due to the oversampling of immigrants there are sufficient numbers in the data-sets (approx. immigrant proportion in data-set: Sweden: 45%; Germany: 47%; the Netherlands: 31%, England: 40%). We will use the students’ data from waves 1 (2010/2011) and 3 (2012/2013). While the value of education and other variables originate from the wave 1 data, for our second step we use the realistic educational aspirations as the outcome variable, which was measured two years later in wave 3. In the first wave of the data collection, students were, on average, 14 years of age – i.e. the Dutch students attended secondary school grade 3, students in Sweden were in grade 8, German students attended the 9th grade and students in England were in grade 10 (CILS4EU, 2016a). Schools functioned as sampling points. Thus, the cluster structure of the data (schools) needs to be considered, as aggregate context effects that are based on the compositions of individuals in a particular context and context-specific aspiration levels have an independent effect on the people in that context over and above the effects of each individual. Furthermore, weighting has to be considered: while we weighted the data-sets for our descriptive analysis, data is not weighted for the multivariate analyses, as the mechanisms behind immigrant-specific differences and controlling for gender and social origin are studied. Since the number of participants decreased dramatically between wave 1 and wave 3, resulting in a bias (successful students being over-represented in wave 3), we employed multiple imputation (Rubin 1987). We followed the argument of Allison (2002), i.e. we estimated missing values based on regression models (including the variables of gender, the value of education, idealistic and realistic educational aspiration, status/HISEI ) to replace any missing information in waves 1 and 3. We ran 20 imputations and produced 20 data-sets to reduce potential bias that may have been caused by imputations.
In all four countries first- and second-generation immigrants assign a higher value to education than non-immigrants. This general effect of immigrant background persists if certain immigrant groups are considered to take into account ethnic heterogeneity. We drew on two different arguments in regard to the link between institutional settings for immigrant integration (represented by the MIPEX), the discouragement thesis (immigrants’ advantage in the value of education, compared to non-immigrants, is higher in Sweden than in England, the Netherlands and Germany) and the need-for-education thesis (immigrants’ advantage in the value of education, compared to non-immigrants, is higher in Germany, the Netherlands and England than in Sweden). The Netherlands shows the highest gap in the value of education between immigrants and non-immigrants – significantly differing from Germany and England in less complex models (not considering ethnic heterogeneity among immigrants). Although no final conclusions can be drawn, since there is no clear pattern across the four countries, the distinction of the Netherlands gives a very weak indication for the need-for-education thesis, as the institutional settings in the Netherlands (according to the MIPEX score and the stratified education system) are less in favour of immigrant integration, at least compared to Sweden or England. The value of education showed some significant positive effects on idealistic and realistic educational aspirations in the four settings – as additional analyses suggest, the effects do not differ significantly between immigrants and non-immigrants.
Allison, P. D. 2002. Missing Data. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Kristen, C., and J. Dollmann, J. 2010. “Sekundäre Effekte der ethnischen Herkunft.” In Vom Kindergarten bis zur Hochschule, by B. Becker, and D. Reimer, 117-144. Wiesbaden: VS. Rubin, D. B. 1987. Multiple Imputations for Nonresponse in Surveys. New York: Wiley. Salikutluk, Z. 2016. “Why Do Immigrant Students Aim High? Explaining the Aspiration–Achievement Paradox of Immigrants in Germany.” European Sociological Review 32 (5): 581-592. Van de Werfhorst, H. G., and F. Van Tubergen. 2007. “Ethnicity, Schooling, and Merit in the Netherlands.” Ethnicities 7 (3): 4164-4144. Wicht, A. 2016. “Occupational Aspirations and Ethnic School Segregation: Social Contagion Effects among Native German and Immigrant Youths.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42 (11): 1825-1845.
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