Ethnic Networks and Educational Achievement over the Life Course
The role of ethnic networks for the structural integration of immigrants’ children is of crucial importance for integration strategies and policies. The issue is, however, under heavy scientific dispute. While some scholars reason that reliance on ethnic ties constrains the advancement of young immigrants, others argue that ties to co-ethnics can compensate for structural disadvantage. Empirically, there is evidence for both kinds of arguments, referring not only to rather diverse immigrant groups in diverse receiving countries but also to very different steps within educational careers; whether ethnic networks have positive or negative effects seems to depend, amongst others, heavily on the life-course. This project aims to integrate these seemingly conflicting views by a more comprehensive model of intergenerational integration across the life-span. Our theoretical starting points are social capital theory, on the one hand, and the model of frame-selection (MFS), on the other hand, that overcomes limits of standard Rational-Choice-Theories by emphasizing the role of cultural norms and values. Our aim is to explain why the precise role of ethnic networks depends crucially on specific characteristics of immigrant groups, on a specific stage of educational careers, and on specific indicators of educational success. To test respective hypotheses we will rely on data from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) that provide a unique chance to test particular hypotheses, as it contains rich information on ethnic networks and social capital of children and their parents at several educational stages.
A review on the state of research has been published as a MZES working paper. The role of ethnic networks for differences in competencies in 9th-graders of various immigrant groups has been analysed. Another study investigating decisions of immigrant parents whether to use childcare facilities has been conducted. An exhibit which pictures the role of social capital for the labour market integration was presented within an exhibition organized for the German Year of Sciences. Results have also been presented at international conferences. One article is under review for publication in an international journal, two further ones are prepared.