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Can ethnic diversity have a positive effect on school achievement?


  • Maestri, Virginia


While the share of non-native students in a class is supposed to have a non positive effect on school achievement, little is said about the heterogeneity of the ethnic minority make-up. Ethnic diversity can stimulate the creativity of students, can push them to be proficient in the instructional language, can reduce the scope of ethnic identification with all its possible drawbacks, but it may also worsen social interactions among pupils and make the job of teachers more difficult. I exploit the within school cohort variation in ethnic diversity of a rich data-set about primary education in the Netherlands to investigate whether ethnic diversity matters for school achievement, for whom it matters and which can be the mechanisms it may generate. I find that ethnic diversity has a positive impact on the test scores of minority students, in particular for language skills. I also find some evidence of a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and school social interaction among pupils.

Suggested Citation

  • Maestri, Virginia, 2009. "Can ethnic diversity have a positive effect on school achievement?," MPRA Paper 31547, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Apr 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:31547

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2009. "New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 349-383, July.
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    8. Deborah Nusche, 2009. "What Works in Migrant Education?: A Review of Evidence and Policy Options," OECD Education Working Papers 22, OECD Publishing.
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    10. Gibbons, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2011. "School quality, child wellbeing and parents' satisfaction," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 312-331, April.
    11. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Paul Torelli, 2005. "An Empirical Analysis of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 11334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2003. "Ethnic Diversity and Economic Performance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2028, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    15. Dronkers, Jaap, 2010. "Positive but also negative effects of ethnic diversity in schools on educational performance? An empirical test using cross-national PISA data," MPRA Paper 25598, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Asako Ohinata & Jan C. Ours, 2016. "Quantile Peer Effects of Immigrant Children at Primary Schools," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(2), pages 135-157, June.
    2. Ohinata, A. & van Ours, J.C., 2013. "Spillover Effects of Studying with Immigrant Students : A Quantile Regression Approach," Discussion Paper 2013-058, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. Sjaak Braster & Jaap Dronkers, 2013. "The positive effects of ethnic diversity in class on the educational performance of pupils in a multi-ethnic European metropole," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1318, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    4. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C, 2013. "Spillover effects of studying with immigrant students; a quantile regression approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 9736, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. De Paola, Maria & Brunello, Giorgio, 2016. "Education as a Tool for the Economic Integration of Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 9836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    ethnic diversity; education; peer effects;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination


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