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Estimating Social and Ethnic Inequality in School Surveys: biases from Child Misreporting and Parent Nonresponse
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). University of Oxford, England .
2015 (English)In: European Sociological Review, ISSN 0266-7215, E-ISSN 1468-2672, Vol. 31, no 3, 312-325 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We study the biases that arise in estimates of social inequalities in children's cognitive ability test scores due to (i) children's misreporting of socio-economic origin and (ii) parents' nonresponse. Unlike most previous studies, we are able to draw on linked register data with high reliability and almost no missingness and thereby jointly consider the impact of measurement error and nonresponse. Using data on 14-year-olds (n = 18,716) from a new survey conducted in England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden (Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey in Four European Countries), we find that child reports on parental occupation are well aligned with parents' reports in all countries, but reports on parental education less so. This leads to underestimation of socio-economic disparities when child reports of education are used, but not occupation. Selective nonresponse among parents turns out to be a real problem, resulting in similar underestimation. We also investigate conditional estimates of immigrant-non-immigrant disparities, which are surprisingly little affected by measurement error or nonresponse in socio-economic control variables. We conclude that school-based surveys on teenagers are well advised to include questions on parental occupation, while the costs for carrying out parental questionnaires may outweigh the gains.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 31, no 3, 312-325 p.
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-117964DOI: 10.1093/esr/jcv005ISI: 000356221900006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-117964DiVA: diva2:818077
Available from: 2015-06-08 Created: 2015-06-08 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Intergenerational Persistence and Ethnic Disparities in Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Intergenerational Persistence and Ethnic Disparities in Education
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis consists of four self-contained essays in the sociology of educational stratification. Study I draws on newly collected survey data to assess the biases that arise in estimating socioeconomic differences in achievement when relying on parent and student reported data on social background. The main finding is that student reports on parental occupation overcome both the problem of misreporting that plagues other data collected from children, and the equally damaging problem of selective nonresponse among parents. Conditional estimates of ethnic disparities are relatively unaffected by these issues.

Study II deals with student survey reports on the number of books in the home. A prominent string of authors has favoured this variable as a social background proxy over parental occupation or education based on its strong associations with educational outcomes. The paper applies various methods to large-scale student assessment data to show that these associations rest not on higher reliability as commonly assumed, but rather on two types of endogeneity. Low achievers accumulate less books and are also prone to underestimate their number.

Study III uses survey and register data to study immigrant parents' education and its associations with children's achievement in recent Swedish cohorts. Two aspects of parental education are distinguished: the absolute years of schooling and a relative place in the source country's educational distribution. Parents' absolute education turns out to predict children's test scores and grades, whereas relative education is a better predictor of their educational aspirations. The result is of some consequence for studies seeking to assess ethnic disparities net of observed parental characteristics.

Study IV extends the positional approach of Study III to understand immigrants' self-perceived social status and income satisfaction in European countries. Those higher educated by origin country than host country standards make more dismal assessments of their current situation than do other immigrants in otherwise similar circumstances. This is attributed to a social contrast mechanism and argued to be of relevance in understanding longer-term patterns of social and economic integration, including educational decisions made by the second generation.

Abstract [sv]

Avhandlingen består av fyra fristående studier som alla berör utbildning och social stratifiering. Studie I undersöker med nyinsamlade enkätdata hur sociala skillnader i skolprestation riskerar att felskattas med bakgrundsuppgifter inhämtade från föräldrar respektive elever. Den viktigaste slutsatsen är att elevuppgifter om föräldrars yrke undviker mycket av den felrapportering som behäftar andra elevsvar, liksom det utbredda problemet med selektivt bortfall bland föräldrar. Villkorliga skattningar av etniska skillnader är relativt opåverkade av dessa metodproblem.

Studie II granskar elevers uppgifter om antalet böcker i hemmet. En betydande litteratur har förespråkat denna variabel som ett mått på klasstillhörighet framför föräldrars yrke eller utbildning på grundval av starka samband med elevers studieresultat. Uppsatsen tillämpar en rad metoder på data från en internationell kunskapsutvärdering och finner att sambandens styrka inte vilar på högre tillförlitlighet som tidigare förmodats, utan på endogenitetsproblem av två slag. Lågpresterande elever ackumulerar färre böcker och är dessutom benägna att underskatta deras antal.

Studie III använder enkät- och registerdata för att belysa utlandsfödda föräldrars utbildning och dess samband med prestationer bland svenska skolbarn. Två aspekter av utbildningsbakgrund särskiljs: föräldrars utbildningsår samt deras relativa placering i ursprungslandets fördelning. Absolut utbildning visar sig predicera elevers testresultat och betyg, medan relativ utbildning är en bättre prediktor för barns aspirationer. Resultatet är av betydelse för studier av etniska skillnader där statistisk kontroll görs för observerbara föräldraegenskaper.

Studie IV tillämpar den positionella ansatsen från Studie III för att förstå utlandsföddas självupplevda status och inkomsttillfredsställelse i europeiska länder. Migranter som är mer högutbildade med ursprungslandets mått mätt än värdlandets tenderar att ha en mer negativ bild av sin nuvarande situation än andra i objektivt liknande omständigheter. Detta kan förstås i termer av sociala referensramar och framhålls som relevant i tolkningen av långsiktiga sociala och ekonomiska integrationsmönster, inklusive de utbildningsval som efterföljande generationer gör.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2016. 31 p.
Series
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 95
Keyword
education, endogeneity, equality of opportunity, ethnic inequality, immigrant selectivity, large-scale assessments, measurement error, proxy variables, social origin, socioeconomic status, Sweden
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-135797 (URN)978-91-7649-606-0 (ISBN)978-91-7649-607-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-01-13, Hörsal 9, Hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2009-1320Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2012-1741Swedish Research Council, 421-2012-5598
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. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-12-20 Created: 2016-11-23 Last updated: 2016-12-21Bibliographically approved

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