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Weak Performance—Strong Determination: School Achievement and Educational Choice among Children of Immigrants in Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
2011 (English)In: European Sociological Review, ISSN 0266-7215, E-ISSN 1468-2672, Vol. 27, no 4, 487-508 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We ask how the advantages and disadvantages in the educational careers of children of immigrants in Sweden are produced, making a theoretical distinction between mechanisms connected with school performance on one hand, and educational choice on the other. Using a new data set, covering six full cohorts of Swedish-born ninth-graders in 1998–2003 (N¼612,730), with matched school-Census information, we show that children of non-European immigrant origin are disadvantaged in their school performance but advantaged in their choice of academic upper secondary education. They have lower and more often incomplete grades, which force a sizeable proportion—10–20 per cent—into non-meritorious tracks or lead them to leave school. Given grades, children of non-European background make heterogeneous choices: many do not enrol in upper secondary education, but among those who do the propensity is high that they choose academic studies before vocational. In contrast, children of the ‘old’ (chiefly Nordic) labour immigrants are similar to the majority group in their equal preference for these two routes. A school system where choice plays a significant role appears to be advantageous for the often high-aspiring second-generation immigrant students, but greater efforts to reduce early achievement differences may still alleviate ethnic minority disadvantages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 27, no 4, 487-508 p.
National Category
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60315DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcq021ISI: 000293620300005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-60315DiVA: diva2:434360
Available from: 2011-08-15 Created: 2011-08-15 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Inequality in Educational Outcomes: How Aspirations, Performance, and Choice Shape School Careers in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inequality in Educational Outcomes: How Aspirations, Performance, and Choice Shape School Careers in Sweden
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines different aspects of educational inequalities, drawing on the notion that inequality in educational attainment depends on two separate mechanisms: that children from advantaged social backgrounds perform better at school (primary effects) and tend more than others to choose to continue in education given performance (secondary effects).

Study I shows that the long-term decrease in social class inequality in the transition from compulsory to academic upper secondary education since the middle of the mid-20th century up to the late 1990s, seems to be related to both declining primary and secondary effects. Secondary effects account for around 35 to 40 percent of the total inequality in academic upper secondary education.

Study II suggests that there has been a continuing trend of declining inequality in academic upper secondary education between pupils of high and low educational origin between 1998 and 2006, a development mainly driven by change in secondary effects. Primary effects have remained more stable and account for a substantial part of the inequality process across the two most important educational transitions.

Study III indicates that class inequality in educational performance at age 16 is attributable to a non-trivial degree to a class gradient in aspirations at age 13. It is argued that survey information on aspirations may help disentangle how educational inequalities develop through feedback processes between skills and ambitions throughout educational careers. Treating early aspirations as anticipatory decisions, by letting their effect on performance represent a choice effect, suggests that cross-sectional estimates of the proportion secondary effects are downwardly biased by up to six percent.

In Study IV, Swedish-born children of immigrant parents are shown to be a heterogeneous group in terms of educational outcomes, with some subgroups doing very well and others quite poorly. A polarized pattern is revealed. Many minority groups do not perform on a par with their majority peers in compulsory school. Conditional on grades, children with parents of a non-European background often do not enroll in upper secondary education, but among those who do, the propensity is high to choose academic studies over vocational.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2011. 62 p.
Series
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 86
Keyword
achievement, aspirations, attainment, educational choice, ethnic inequality, performance, social origin
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63213 (URN)978-91-7447-378-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-11-30, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-11-08 Created: 2011-10-12 Last updated: 2012-02-15Bibliographically approved

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