Educational differences between native-born and immigrant youth in Western societies: a study of the influence of institutional and individual factors on the basis of PISA data from 2000, 2003, and 2006

Roland Verwiebe, University of Vienna
Bernhard Riederer, University of Vienna

The educational opportunities of young people with an immigrant background have in recent years become a major research topic. Studies show that this category of persons suffers marked disadvantages in the education system in Western societies. This paper addresses the issue by means of a multi-level analysis of 20 countries on the basis of the PISA data from 2000, 2003, and 2006. The focus is on educational differences between native-born and immigrant youth. Multi-level analyses allow the influence of individual, contextual, and institutional factors to be taken into account. The paper draws on theory and studies concerned with primary and secondary effects on educational careers as well as on research dealing with the importance of the family context (educational career of the parents, housing situation, etc.). The school context, including type of school, and language skills are also important from a theoretical point of view. In addition, our country selection takes account of recent research into the conditions for integration in different immigration systems. Our sample covers traditional immigration countries (e.g., Canada), European countries of “classical” labor immigration (e.g., Germany), countries characterized by post-colonial immigration (e.g., United Kingdom), comparatively liberal Scandinavian countries (e.g., Sweden), Southern European immigration systems (e.g., Portugal), and Russia which stands for a novel form of Eastern European immigration system. Results show that the educational opportunities of immigrant children have changed in recent years. In some countries immigrant youth faces growing educational disadvantages (e.g., in Britain) while in others these disadvantages have diminished (e.g., in Australia). Institutional factors like the stratification of the school system influence the educational opportunities of the group under study. But of importance are also the socio-economic status of the parents (very important, for example, in Germany, less so in Canada), the language spoken in the home, and the resources available in schools.

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Presented in Session 68: Education and religion