Ethnic Networks and Educational Achievement over the Life Course

Research question/goal: 

The project investigated the role of ethnic networks for the integration of immigrants and their children in Germany. We conducted analyses using several cohorts of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) and employing a wide variety of social network measures.

In a methodological study on measurement invariance, we investigated whether the survey instruments for social capital used in NEPS cohort 6 (adults) measure the same concept in the same way across the native and the immigrant population in Germany. Testing for configural invariance, metric invariance, and scalar invariance, we found that neither lingual nor cultural diversity are compromising the comparability of the social capital measurement across groups.

On the basis of cohort 4 (15-year-old adolescents), we examined the relationship between native friends and host country identification. While national identification of both ethnic German repatriates and adolescents of former Yugoslavian and Southern European origin is related to the share of natives among their friends, we did not observe this association for adolescent immigrants of Turkish and Polish origin. In a follow-up study, we found that ethnic identity reduces host country identification for adolescents of Turkish origin only if they live in neighbourhoods with high shares of co-ethnics.

In one of the first studies differentiating between religious ties and ethnic ties in Germany, we employed data from starting cohorts 3 (younger students) and 4. We found that religious community engagement goes along with better performance in mathematical tests but that an increasing share of co-ethnics undermines this advantage. This antagonistic effect challenges the assumption that ethnic or religious communities are generally beneficial or detrimental.

Using data of cohort 6 as well as direct measures of social resources and socio-economic network positioning, we further demonstrated that ethnic networks hinder labour market integration by offering less host country–specific social capital. By contrast, we neither found evidence of normative peer group influence nor detected any net effect of ethnic social capital on labour market integration.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2016
Data Sources: 
Secondary Data Analysis, National Educational Panel Study
Geographic Space: