Aiming High, No Matter What?

Educational Aspirations of Ethnic Minority and Ethnic Majority Youth in England, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden

In: Comparative Sociology
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  • 1 Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • | 2 Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

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Abstract

The authors examine cross-national variation in the ethnic gradient in aspirations among 14-year-olds in England, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden by using data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries, collected in 2009/2010. Results show that most ethnic minority groups are more likely to have university aspirations than ethnic majority youth. The most consistent minority advantage is found in England and Sweden, consistent with the interpretation that the ample scope for choice in progression through these school systems allows high ambitions of minorities to play out well. However, minority advantage of some groups is also present in the Netherlands and Germany, where transitions are more heavily conditional on previous performance. The pattern for immigrant generational status varies across countries and ethnic origins. There is no consistent empirical evidence indicating that aspiration differences between ethnic minority and majority youth will diminish due to assimilation processes across the generations.

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