Intergenerational Persistence and Ethnic Disparities in Education

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Sociology, Stockholm University

Abstract: 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.

  This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.