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Length of stay in the host country and educational achievement of immigrant students: The Italian case

Listed author(s):
  • Adriana Di Liberto

Purpose - – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the gap in reading literacy of young immigrant children in Italy and examine if this gap is significantly influenced by pupils’ length of stay in Italy and country of origin. Design/methodology/approach - – The author estimate a standard education production function where student test performance in language is modelled as a function of the native vs immigrant first- and second-generation status and a set of additional variables that control for students, schools and catchment area characteristics. In the analysis the author use the 2010-2011 school-year data for four stages of schooling: second and fifth grade/year of primary school, sixth grade of lower secondary school and tenth grade upper secondary school. Findings - – Results confirm the presence of a significant gap between natives and immigrants students in school outcomes for all grades, with first-generation immigrants showing the largest gap. Further, comparing the results between first- and second-generation immigrant students suggests that the average significant gap observed in the first generation is mainly due to the negative performance of immigrant children newly arrived in Italy. That is, for first-generation students, closing the gap with second-generation ones seems to be, for the most part, a matter of time. At the same time, the gap between natives and second-generation immigrants remains significant in all grades. Finally, when the author compare the results across the different years, it turns out that interventions at younger ages are likely to be more effective. Research limitations/implications - – Despite the availability of a rich set of controls, endogeneity issues may play a role in the analysis. Practical implications - – Results suggest that if the foreign children’s late arrival is the result of national migration policies on family reunification, the authorities need to carefully compare the possible benefit of delaying immigrant family reunification against the possible costs of students’ lower school performance. Originality/value - – Among economist, only few recent studies address the important question of whether the age at arrival and the length of stay in the host country matters for immigrants’ educational achievements. Moreover, while according to PISA 2009 results, Italy has some of the largest native-immigrant school performance gaps among OECD countries there are no studies that investigate this issue.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 36 (2015)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 585-618

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:36:y:2015:i:4:p:585-618
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  1. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 201-245, April.
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  7. Sweetman, A. & van Ours, J.C., 2014. "Immigration : What About the Children and Grandchildren?," Discussion Paper 2014-009, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Adriana Di Liberto & Fabiano Schivardi & Giovanni Sulis, 2015. "Managerial practices and student performance," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(84), pages 683-728.
  9. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2010. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation among US Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 165-192, January.
  10. De Simone, Gianfranco, 2013. "Render unto primary the things which are primary's: Inherited and fresh learning divides in Italian lower secondary education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 12-23.
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  14. Ballatore, Rosario Maria & Fort, Margherita & Ichino, Andrea, 2014. "The Tower of Babel in the Classroom: Immigrants and Natives in Italian Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 8732, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2012. "Young immigrant children and their educational attainment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 288-290.
  16. Anthony Heath & Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, 2012. "Immigrant Children's Age at Arrival and Assessment Results," OECD Education Working Papers 75, OECD Publishing.
  17. Giorgio Brunello & Lorenzo Rocco, 2008. "Educational Standards in Private and Public Schools," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(533), pages 1866-1887, November.
  18. Sauro Mocetti, 2012. "Educational choices and the selection process: before and after compulsory schooling," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 189-209, February.
  19. Bratti, Massimiliano & Checchi, Daniele & Filippin, Antonio, 2007. "Territorial Differences in Italian Students’ Mathematical Competencies: Evidence from PISA 2003," IZA Discussion Papers 2603, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Joseph Schaafsma & Arthur Sweetman, 2001. "Immigrant earnings: age at immigration matters," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1066-1099, November.
  21. Böhlmark, Anders, 2008. "Age at immigration and school performance: A siblings analysis using swedish register data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1366-1387, December.
  22. Cortes, Kalena E., 2006. "The effects of age at arrival and enclave schools on the academic performance of immigrant children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 121-132, April.
  23. Bratsberg, Bernt & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Røed, Knut, 2011. "Educating Children of Immigrants: Closing the Gap in Norwegian Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 6138, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
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