Tobias Roth, Markus Weißmann
The Role of Parents’ Native and Migrant Contacts on the Labour Market in the School-to-Work Transition of Adolescents in Germany

European Sociological Review, 2022: 38, issue 5, pp. 707–724
ISSN: 0266-7215 (print), 1468-2672 (online)

This study investigates how parents’ native and migrant contacts in the German labour market affect the likelihood of children obtaining a company-based apprenticeship [dual vocational education and training (VET)] after lower secondary education. Furthermore, it assesses the extent to which characteristics of parents’ social networks explain ethnic inequalities in this school-to-work transition. Using longitudinal data from Starting Cohort 4 (ninth-graders) of the National Educational Panel Study, we show that the number of migrant contacts in parents’ networks does not affect the outcome of adolescents’ apprenticeship search. This applies to both migrant and native adolescents. However, if parents have many native contacts, the chances of adolescents obtaining a company-based apprenticeship increases in both groups. In addition, controlling for the composition of parents’ networks substantially reduces the gap between natives and migrants in the transition to dual VET. Further analyses show that this is mainly due to differences in the number of native labour market contacts between native and migrant parents. Our findings indicate that differences in parents’ endowment with labour market relevant social capital constitute yet another hurdle for immigrant children in the transition from school to working life.