Frank Kalter, Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim
Occupational and educational attainment are 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 concern in most Western societies. Germany is no exception, and here the structural performance of youth with Turkish background appears particularly worrisome. Using recent data from the German microcensus we find that the relative labour market performance of the second generation is almost completely a matter of education and there are no signs of severe labour market discrimination. Comparing the recent data to former periods, we will then show that the stagnation in relative educational success is mainly due to a growing gap in socio-economic background. Taking this into proper account, there is a much stronger tendency towards structural assimilation than it appears. Finally, we set the German findings into a comparative setting: Using the data from our Children of Immigrant Survey in Four European Countries (CILS4EU), we will show that SES background – rather than discrimination or ‘unwillingness to integrate’ – are key to understanding ethnic minority group differences also in England, the Netherlands, and Sweden; mechanisms seem to be astonishingly similar between countries.
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