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Inequality of Learning amongst Immigrant Children in Industrialised Countries


  • Schnepf, Sylke V.

    () (European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre)


Literature examining immigrants’ educational disadvantage across countries focuses generally on average differences in educational outcomes between immigrants and natives disguising thereby that immigrants are a highly heterogeneous group. The aim of this paper is to examine educational inequalities among immigrants in eight high immigration countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. Results indicate that for almost all countries immigrants’ educational dispersion is considerably higher than for natives. For most countries higher educational dispersion derives from very low achieving immigrants. Quantile regression results reveal that at lower percentiles language skills impact more on educational achievement than at the top of the achievement distribution. Results are presented separately for immigrants of different age cohorts, varying time of immigrants’ residence in the host country and subject examined (maths and reading) highlighting thereby the different patterns found by immigrant group and achievement measure.

Suggested Citation

  • Schnepf, Sylke V., 2008. "Inequality of Learning amongst Immigrant Children in Industrialised Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 3337, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3337

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2006. "Inequality of Learning in Industrialised Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 2517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Sylke Schnepf, 2007. "Immigrants’ educational disadvantage: an examination across ten countries and three surveys," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(3), pages 527-545, July.
    3. Ira N. Gang & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2000. "Is Child like Parent? Educational Attainment and Ethnic Origin," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 550-569.
    4. Giorgina Brown & John Micklewright & Sylke V. Schnepf & Robert Waldmann, 2007. "International surveys of educational achievement: how robust are the findings?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 623-646.
    5. Levels, Mark & Dronkers, Jaap Dronkers & Kraaykamp, Gerbert, 2006. "Educational Achievement of Immigrant Children in Western Countries: Origin, Destination, and Community Effects on Mathematical Performance," MPRA Paper 21653, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Frick, Joachim R. & Wagner, Gert G., 2001. "Economic and Social Perspectives of Immigrant Children in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 301, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mancebón-Torrubia, María-Jesús & Calero, Jorge & Choi, Álvaro & Ximénez-de-Embún, Domingo P., 2010. "Efficiency of public and publicly-subsidised high schools in Spain. Evidence from PISA 2006," MPRA Paper 21165, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. José Manuel Cordero Ferrera & Manuel Muñiz Pérez & Rosa Simancas Rodríguez, 2015. "The influence of socioeconomic factors on cognitive and non-cognitive educational outcomes," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 10,in: Marta Rahona López & Jennifer Graves (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 10, edition 1, volume 10, chapter 21, pages 413-438 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    3. Johannes S. Kunz, 2016. "Analyzing Educational Achievement Differences between Second-Generation Immigrants: Comparing Germany and German-Speaking Switzerland," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(1), pages 61-91, February.
    4. Eva Crespo-Cebada & Francisco Pedraja-Chaparro & Daniel Santín, 2014. "Does school ownership matter? An unbiased efficiency comparison for regions of Spain," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 153-172, February.
    5. Maria Cattaneo & Stefan Wolter, 2015. "Better migrants, better PISA results: Findings from a natural experiment," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    6. Smyth, Emer & Darmody, Merike & McGinnity, Frances & Byrne, Delma, 2009. "Adapting to Diversity: Irish Schools and Newcomer Students," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS8.
    7. Boll, Christina, 2010. "Mind the gap!: The amount of German mothers' care bill and its game theoretical issues," HWWI Research Papers 1-29, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    8. Meunier, Muriel, 2011. "Immigration and student achievement: Evidence from Switzerland," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 16-38, February.

    More about this item


    education; educational inequalities; immigration; PISA; TIMSS; PIRLS;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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