Young Immigrants in the German and Israeli Educational Systems

Research question/goal: 

The study investigated the success of children and adolescents with a migration background in the education systems of Germany and Israel. In both countries the persistence of structural inequality with regard to ethnicity is closely related to lower educational achievement of immigrants and their descendants. Against the background of a general theoretical approach it was assumed that ethnic inequalities are reproduced particularly at crucial transitions within the educational systems. With this in mind, pupils and their mothers from the Former Soviet Union (in Germany also from Turkey) and natives were surveyed before and after crucial transition points in their school careers (panel with two respectively three survey waves). In wave one 2289 complete interviews were conducted in Germany and 1868 in Israel. Our results confirm that in both countries pupils with a migration background score noticeably lower than natives on achievement tests and have markedly lower grades. These differences are particularly conspicuous in the area of language skills and grades in German, respectively Hebrew. In Germany this is true most of all for Turkish pupils. However, upon comparison of natives and immigrants with the same resources endowment these differences disappear for the most part. Ethnic differences in the school performance thus can be traced primarily to social-structural differences. This is similarly true for critical transitions within the educational system. After controlling for school performance and social origin, differences in the transition behaviour of natives and immigrants no longer exist. The central finding then is that differences in the educational success of immigrants and natives are due primarily to differences in families' access to educationally relevant resources, which in turn affects the school performance of their children. There are no indications of a farther-reaching disadvantage of children with a migration background in terms of grading or at transition points within the educational system.

Fact sheet

2006 to 2010
Data Sources: 
Primary data collection
Geographic Space: 
Germany, Israel