Ethnic Inequality in Educational Attainment and Selective Migration

Research question/goal: 

The project concentrated on the question whether the slow pace of the educational integration of the second generation in Germany has been induced – at least to a certain extent – by a widening gap in class origin. As it seems, lower educational attainment of the second generation results primarily from differences in class origin rather than from genuine ethnic traits.

Given the fact that the relationship between social origin and educational attainment has been weakening over the past decades one might expect ethnic educational inequality to disappear over time. But then, this would only happen if the gap in class origin weren’t widening either due to a negative educational selection in the replenishment process, i.e. the arrival of migrants, or due to an increase in the educational background of the indigenous population.

Changes in the composition of educational background and in the relationship between educational background and educational attainment were analyzed with German Microcensus data. Results show that, overall ethnic gaps in educational attainment diminished in the considered period. Comparing different levels of educational background, decreasing inequalities in attainment can only be found on the lower and medium levels. In the highest background group, ethnic inequality even slightly increased.

However, the overall decrease in the attainment gap is rather unexpected when looking at the development of parental educational background. Here, a clear increase in ethnic inequality over the past decades was observed.

Fact sheet

2011 to 2015
Data Sources: 
secondary data
Geographic Space: