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  • 1. Berger, Thor
    et al.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI). University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
    American geography of opportunity reveals European origins2019In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 116, no 13, p. 6045-6050Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    A large literature documents how intergenerational mobility-the degree to which (dis)advantage is passed on from parents to children-varies across and within countries. Less is known about the origin or persistence of such differences. We show that US areas populated by descendants to European immigrants have similar levels of income equality and mobility as the countries their forebears came from: highest in areas dominated by descendants to Scandinavian and German immigrants, lower in places with French or Italian heritage, and lower still in areas with British roots. Similar variation in mobility is found for the black population and when analyzing causal place effects, suggesting that mobility differences arise at the community level and extend beyond descendants of European immigrant groups. Our findings indicate that the geography of US opportunity may have deeper historical roots than previously recognized.

  • 2.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI). University of Oxford, UK.
    Aspiration Squeeze: The Struggle of Children to Positively Selected Immigrants2019In: Sociology of education, ISSN 0038-0407, E-ISSN 1939-8573, Vol. 92, no 1, p. 83-103Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Why is it that children of immigrants often outdo their ethnic majority peers in educational aspirations yet struggle to keep pace with their achievements? This article advances the explanation that many immigrant communities, while positively selected on education, still have moderate absolute levels of schooling. Therefore, parents’ education may imbue children with high expectations but not always the means to fulfill them. Swedish data on children of immigrants from over 100 countries of origin support this view: Net of parents’ absolute years of schooling, a high rank in the sending country benefits children’s aspirations, attitudes, and educational choices but not their test scores or school grades. The upshot is an ‘‘aspiration squeeze’’ where to emulate their parents’ relative place in the education distribution, children are left struggling against the momentous tide of educational expansion.

  • 3.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Intergenerational Persistence and Ethnic Disparities in Education2016Doctoral 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.

  • 4.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Second Generation Success: What Do Positively Selected, Low-Status Immigrants Transmit to their Children?Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
  • 5.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    What Do Books in the Home Proxy For?: A Cautionary TaleManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    A large body of work in the social sciences relies on proxy variables to capture the influence of an unobserved regressor. Assuming that measurement error is well approximated by a classical model implying bias toward the null, proxies that explain a larger amount of variance in the regression are routinely preferred. I show how this reasoning can mislead, examining a widely used predictor of student achievement: the self-reported number of books at home. Underreporting by low achievers and endogeneity of parental inputs both contribute an upward bias, large enough to overturn the classical attenuation result and lead to spurious inferences. The findings serve as a caution against overreliance on standard assumptions and cast doubt on predictive power as a criterion for proxy selection. 

  • 6.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    What Do Books in the Home Proxy For?: A Cautionary Tale2016Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    A large body of work in the social sciences relies on proxy variables to capture the influence of an unobserved regressor. Assuming that measurement error is well approximated by a classical model implying bias toward the null, proxies that explain a larger amount of variance in the regression are routinely preferred. I show how this reasoning can mislead, examining a widely used predictor of student achievement: the self-reported number of books at home. Underreporting by low achievers and endogeneity of parental inputs both contribute an upward bias, large enough to overturn the classical attenuation result and lead to spurious inferences. The findings serve as a caution against overreliance on standard assumptions and cast doubton predictive power as a criterion for proxy selection.

  • 7.
    Engzell, Per
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Ichou, Mathieu
    Unto a Better Land?: Immigrant Selectivity, Transnational Status Loss, and Subjective Economic Well-BeingManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    There is mounting interest in immigrant “selectivity”—how migrants differ from non-migrants— and how this might impact their host country assimilation. The authors argue that observed selection as proxied by education level is largely explained by access to social and economic resources in the source country, and discuss implications of this proposition. In particular, much of the “drive” or “optimism” commonly attributed to immigrant minorities may stem not so much from self-selection on innate traits—a frequent speculation—as from a desire to recuperate social status held prior to migration. To assess this possibility, an empirical analysis taps the subjective economic well-being of over 5,000 immigrants from 140 national origins in 20 destination countries using European Social Survey data. As predicted, those higher educated by origin country than host country standards make more dismal assessments of their current social status and financial situation than do other immigrants in otherwise similar circumstances.

  • 8.
    Engzell, Per
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Jonsson, Jan O.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI). University of Oxford, England .
    Estimating Social and Ethnic Inequality in School Surveys: biases from Child Misreporting and Parent Nonresponse2015In: European Sociological Review, ISSN 0266-7215, E-ISSN 1468-2672, Vol. 31, no 3, p. 312-325Article in journal (Refereed)
    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.

  • 9.
    Jonsson, Jan O.
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Brolin Låftman, Sara
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
    Rudolphi, Frida
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Engzell Waldén, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Integration, etnisk mångfald och attityder bland högstadieelever: Resultat från enkätstudien YES! inom projektet CILS4EU2012In: Främlingsfienden inom oss: Bilagedel, Stockholm: Fritzes, 2012Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 10. Parameshwaran, Meenakshi
    et al.
    Engzell, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI).
    Ethnicity in England: What Parents' Country of Birth Can and Can't Tell Us about Their Children's Ethnic Identification2015In: Journal of ethnic and migration studies, ISSN 1369-183X, E-ISSN 1469-9451, Vol. 41, no 3, p. 399-424Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite the importance of adequately measuring ethnicity to keep track of ethnic disparities in important outcomes, there is little consensus on how this is best achieved. Different countries apply widely differing standards, seemingly guided by convenience more than conviction. We employ unique data on 3035 15-year-olds living in England to investigate inconsistencies when two different measures are used: (i) ethnic group self-identification by respondents and (ii) information on parents' birth country. The former is currently standard in England and Wales and the latter in many European countries. After having aligned our country-of-origin-based measure to the ethnic categories currently in use in England and Wales, we are able to show substantial agreement across measures, and estimates of disparities in language proficiency and delinquency appear little affected by the choice of measure. We conclude that comparative research using secondary data need not be badly biased due to inconsistent measures if sufficient care is taken in harmonisation.

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