The Structural Integration of the 2nd Generation. New Data, Same Old Stories?
Educational attainment is widely seen as the key to the integration of immigrants over generations. Accordingly, the fact that many ethnic minority groups fail to catch up with their majority peers even in the long run is of major public concern. Comparing data from the German microcensus over a longer time span we will show that the stagnation in relative educational success is mainly due to a severely growing gap in socio-economic background. This is widely overseen in public and academic debates. Taking this into proper account, there has been a much stronger tendency towards structural assimilation than it appears.
Using data from our Children of Immigrant Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU), we will then show that controlling for socio-economic background there tend to be positive choice effects in educational decisions for most ethnic minorities - in Germany as well as in England, the Netherlands, and Sweden. They result from high educational aspirations rather than from perceived discrimination; findings are surprisingly similar between countries. In general the results suggest a more optimistic and relaxed view on structural integration processes in intergenerational perspective, refuting common views and concerns on both ends of the political spectrum.