Richard D. Alba, Johann Handl, Walter Müller
Ethnic Inequalities in the German School System

Arbeitsbereich I; 08
ISSN: 0948-0072

On the basis of previous research, the degree and nature of the disadvantages faced by immigrant minorities in the school system of the Federal Republic of Germany remain uncertain. We address these issues by the analysis of two major data sets: the Microcensus of 1989 and the Socio-Economic Panel. Our analysis of the Microcensus reveals the extent of ethnic disadvantage remaining after the socio-economic origins and generational status of students are taken into account. The findings show that children from three groups, Italians, Turks, and Yugoslavs, are more likely than German children to be placed in the least desirable track of the school system, the Hauptschulen, and to leave the system without an apprenticeship (i.e., without a Lehre). Greek children, by contrast, are more likely even than Germans to be found in the most desirable track, the Gymnasium, which feeds into the higher educational system. Our analysis of the Socio-Economic Panel indicates that these ethnic disadvantages are associated with the cultural climate at home and with whether or not the student has had a continuous educational career in Germany. In closing, we discuss these findings in terms of theories about the nature of ethnic disadvantage.